Don’t leave getting fit and healthy until too late in life, say researchers, as doing regular exercise in your 20s, 30s and beyond can help to reduce the risk of dementia

Doing exercise to stay healthy and ensure your brain does too is a given these days, but what researchers are keen to point out is the importance of consistency. That is, ensuring that you do exercise throughout life, and not just develop a penchant for running or yoga in your 50s and 60s.

In a study from the University of Melbourne, researchers followed the lifestyles and health habits of 387 Australian women aged 45 to 55 for 20 years, starting in 1992. They observed a range of health indicators including weight, BMI, blood pressure, hormone levels, diet and exercise, as well as their marital status, job and child status.

They tested the women on the memory abilities by naming a list of 10 words and then asking them to recite them back 30 minutes later.

They discovered that those women who exercised regularly (and the type of exercise was less important – it could be running, yoga, hiking, climbing) were less likely to experience cognitive decline.

However, what was also clear was that exercise has a cumulative effect. That is, those women who had maintained an exercise routine during the whole 20 years that they were observed had less memory problems than those who took it up in the last few years.

So what happens if you're one of those people that is a latecomer to fitness? Is it all a waste of time? Not at all, claim scientists. A 2013 study from the British Medical Journal said that elderly people who take up exercise in later life are still better off than those of a similar age who don’t do any exercise.

Our advice? Take up some form of exercise that you enjoy at any age…and stick with it!

Sources: Runningmagazine.ca and Huffington Post