It's not just genetics that raises your risk of dementia

If you thought the only thing that increased your risk of developing dementia as you got older was a predisposition to the disease, you could well be wrong. A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has found that sitting on your backside might also increase your risk.

There are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia, which is expected to increase to almost 900,000 by 2050.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia.

According to Alzheimer’s Australia, one of the biggest risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease is the apolipoprotein E (APOE) e4 gene. If you possess a copy of the APOE e4 gene you are three times more likely to develop the disease than those without it. If you have multiple copies of the gene, you’re eight to 12 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.

However, this new research suggests your risk of dementia is just as high in older adults if you have an excessively sedentary lifestyle.

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The Australian Government’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults and Physical Activity Recommendations for Older Australians recommends at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate intensity or 75 minutes (1.25 hours) vigorous intensity activity each week.

But a 2015 review published in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity found if you are aged 60 years and older you are spending roughly 9.4 hours a day sedentary… That’s approximately 65-80 per cent of your waking day.

This new research has found that by assessing the physical activity and dementia development in almost 1,650 older adults, those who did not carry the APOE e4 gene and who did not exercise were more likely to develop dementia than those who did.

“This important message here is that being inactive may completely negate the protective side effects of a healthy set of genes,” Jennifer Heisz, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Canada’s McMaster University says.

The research reveals that if you exercise you can mitigate the risk of dementia, however the research team acknowledges further investigations are required to determine the implications from a public health perspective.

How active are you? Do you get the recommended number of hours exercise in your week? Are you concerned about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as you get older?