The benefits of staying fit involve more than just a toned physique: It also might lower the risk of dementia in women.
A new study published in Neurology found studied 1,500 women in Sweden, monitoring their physical activity levels and cognitive status upt to a period of 44 years. Scientists found that women who were highly fit were 88 percent less likely to develop dementia in comparison to average fitness. Women who were not as fit had a 41 percent increased risk of developing dementia.
Fitness, as described in this study, doesn't only mean lots of exercise. Helena Horder, a physiotherapist from the Center for Aging and Health-AGECAP at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and her colleagues working on the study specifically measured cardiovascular fitness (or how well blood circulation feeds the heart and the brain.) “If the small blood vessels and circulation in the heart are okay, then the brain is also affected in a positive way by good small vessel circulation,” says Horder.
If you're not a fan of extreme workouts like boot camp and cross fit, that's okay. The CDC recommends that adults "should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity." While the study specifically looks at cardiovascular health and fitness, Horder says strength training and muscle building should be incorporated with age.