Exercise May Lower Risk of Dementia

March 29, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings 
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. dementia 
[dih-MEN-shuh, -shee-uh] (n.) –  a mental illness that weakens memory, judgment, and understanding
Example: The patient with dementia can no longer recognize her family and relatives.

2. cardiovascular [kahr-dee-oh-VAS-kyuh-ler] (adj.) – relating to the heart and blood vessels
Example: The doctor advised my mother to engage in cardiovascular exercises to strengthen her heart.

3. midlife [MID-lahyf] (adj.) – refers to a person’s middle age, usually between the age 45 and 55
Example:  Most people who experience midlife crisis at age 40 are unhappy.

4. treadmill [TRED-mil] (n.) – an exercise machine in which a person can run or walk while staying in the same place
Example: Instead of jogging outside, he decided to exercise using the treadmill.

5. fitness [FIT-nis] (n.) – a person’s good physical condition or health
Example: An athlete has a higher level of fitness than an occasional jogger.

Read the text below.

Statistics for Alzheimer's disease show that one out of eight adults aged 65 and older suffers from this disease. But, a new research suggests that a person’s fitness level in middle age can determine his or her risk of having dementia in later life.

Researchers of this study used the database from the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study,   which contained information of patient visits to the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. This database was previously used to determine the relationships between fitness and expected life span, diabetes and other diseases. However, in the recent study, researchers tried to show connections between cardiovascular fitness and dementia.

The study compared the midlife fitness levels of 19,458 healthy people to those who were identified to have dementia in later life. Instead of using only patients’ self-reported activities, the researchers used treadmill tests to measure the fitness levels of the participants.  Researchers also took into consideration the age and gender of the participants.

Results revealed that people who had the highest fitness levels were 36% less likely to develop any kind of dementia. Hence, people with better cardiovascular fitness in their middle age may have sharper minds even when they grow old.

However, researchers were not sure whether other lifestyle factors, such as healthy diet, contributed to the results. Therefore, the researchers could not conclude that cardiovascular fitness alone directly caused the lower risk of having Alzheimer's. Nonetheless, the study still provided proof that exercise could result to long term health benefits.

The study’s lead author, Doctor Laura De Fina, said that what people do in the present can affect their physical and mental health in the future.

Viewpoint Discussion 
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that exercise may keep a person’s mind sharper even when he or she gets old? Why or why not?
·         How can a person’s weak memory affect his or her life?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the negative effects of over-exercising to a person’s health?
·         How else can people benefit from exercising?


March 29, 2013