Exercising regularly during midlife can seriously cut the risk of developing dementia in old age, a new study has found.
People in their late 40s and early 50s who exercise for about half an hour at least twice a week cut the risk of getting dementia later in life by 50 per cent, according to a study reported in Lancet Neurology.
Regular exercise could also cut the risk of contracting Alzheimer's by 60 per cent among people who are genetically prone to the disease.
The Swedish team who conducted the research said that their findings could significantly help to prevent disease.
They explained: "If an individual adopts an active lifestyle in youth and at midlife, this may increase their probability of enjoying both physically and cognitively vital years in later life."
The team added that regular exercise keeps the small blood vessels of the brain healthy, as well as helping to prevent conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, that can make dementia more likely.
This research is groundbreaking, as it is the first to look at how exercising from earlier in life can help to prevent dementia, a condition which generally advances over a longer time period, and is often quite far advanced by the time it is diagnosed.