Self-rated physical fitness in midlife an indicator of dementia risk

February 26, 2014

How would you rate your own physical fitness? Is it good, satisfactory or maybe even poor? Surprisingly, your answer may reveal your future risk of getting dementia.

A recent collaborative study from Finland, involving the follow-up of 3,559 adults for 30 years, has found that a simple question about self-rated physical fitness in midlife may reveal individuals who are at an increased risk of developing . Those who reported poor self-rated physical fitness in midlife, at the mean age of 50 years, were four times more likely to get dementia during the next three decades compared to those with good self-rated physical fitness.

"Previous research has shown that self-rated health is a strong indicator of adverse health events. This is the first large population-based study investigating associations between self-rated physical fitness during the three decades from midlife to later life and dementia risk," says Postdoctoral Researcher, Dr Jenni Kulmala from the Gerontology Research Center at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

The association between poor self-rated physical fitness and dementia was most pronounced among noncarriers of the apolipoprotein E ε4 allele, that is, people who did not have a strong genetic susceptibility for dementia. A strong association was also observed among people with chronic diseases.

"Chronic conditions independently increase the dementia risk. Furthermore, if a person additionally feels that his or her physical fitness is poor, the risk is even higher. In terms of dementia prevention, maintaining good physical fitness seems to be especially important for people with ," Kulmala says.

Poor self-rated fitness is known to be affected by lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, poor mental wellbeing, lack of social connections, lower education, high body mass index and smoking. Perceived poor physical fitness therefore integrates several unfavourable aspects of lifestyle that have all been previously linked to increased dementia risk.

"The perception of poor is most likely affected by different factors for different people. Therefore, I would encourage those who rate their fitness as poor to think about the factors behind this perception. Increasing physical and social activity, making better dietary choices or quitting smoking, for example, could change the rating into more positive. Individual choices that make you feel physically better may substantially decrease your future risk of developing dementia," Kulmala says.

Explore further: Higher midlife fitness linked to lower all-cause dementia risk

More information: Journal of Internal Medicine 2014. Jan 20. DOI: 10.1111/joim.12202.

Related Stories

Higher midlife fitness linked to lower all-cause dementia risk

February 5, 2013
(HealthDay)—Individuals with higher midlife cardiorespiratory fitness levels are significantly less likely to develop all-cause dementia later in life, according to research published in the Feb. 5 issue of the Annals of ...

Direct fitness measures better predict cardiometabolic risk

February 21, 2014
(HealthDay)—Directly measured fitness is more strongly associated with cardiovascular risk than self-reported physical activity level, according to research published in the Feb. 15 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Think you're in poor health? It could increase your odds of dementia

October 5, 2011
People who rate their health as poor or fair appear to be significantly more likely to develop dementia later in life, according to a study published in the October 5, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal ...

African Americans' concept of health may be more than physical

February 14, 2014
Self-rated health—or, a person's perception of their own health—has been shown to be a strong predictor of illness and even death. A new study in the journal Ethnicity and Disease finds that African-Americans with poorer ...

Study reveals how modes of behavior interact and how they influence fitness and health over many years

February 12, 2014
Can initial modes of behavior be used to predict how fit and healthy a person will be 18 years later? This question was in the focus of studies performed by researchers of KIT, Technische Universität München, and the ...

Study of patients ages 90 and older links poor physical performance, increased odds of dementia

October 22, 2012
Poor physical performance on activities including walking was associated with increased odds of dementia in a study of individuals 90 years and older, according to a report published Online First by Archives of Neurology.

Recommended for you

Lifestyle changes to stave off Alzheimer's? Hints, no proof

July 20, 2017
There are no proven ways to stave off Alzheimer's, but a new report raises the prospect that avoiding nine key risks starting in childhood just might delay or even prevent about a third of dementia cases around the world.

Steering an enzyme's 'scissors' shows potential for stopping Alzheimer's disease

July 19, 2017
The old real estate adage about "location, location, location" might also apply to the biochemical genesis of Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from the University of British Columbia.

Brain scans may change care for some people with memory loss

July 19, 2017
Does it really take an expensive brain scan to diagnose Alzheimer's? Not everybody needs one but new research suggests that for a surprising number of patients whose memory problems are hard to pin down, PET scans may lead ...

Can poor sleep boost odds for Alzheimer's?

July 18, 2017
(HealthDay)— Breathing problems during sleep may signal an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, a trio of studies suggests.

Hearing is believing: Speech may be a clue to mental decline

July 17, 2017
Your speech may, um, help reveal if you're uh ... developing thinking problems. More pauses, filler words and other verbal changes might be an early sign of mental decline, which can lead to Alzheimer's disease, a study suggests.

Bacteria found in Alzheimer's brains

July 17, 2017
Researchers in the UK have used DNA sequencing to examine bacteria in post-mortem brains from patients with Alzheimer's disease. Their findings suggest increased bacterial populations and different proportions of specific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.