Ordinarily considered a disease for older people, Alzheimer’s disease can also affect adults as young as age 30, although less common. When the disease affects anyone before the age of 65, this is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s. If you’re surprised, take a look at genetics. For example, if your grandparent or parent had Alzheimer’s, you’ll belong to the 10% of the population at risk for the disease.

But being “at risk” doesn’t mean you’re destined to develop Alzheimer’s. In fact, prioritizing your health and mental wellbeing through a healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce your risk. By challenging your brain every day, eating well and exercising regularly, you can help prevent the onset of dementia as you age. Preliminary evidence suggests that brain-training games and exercises can help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Laura Middleton, a PhD student from Dalhousie University, writes in her reviews that “studies suggested that people who exercised had 10 to 45% less chances of being diagnosed with dementia. People who exercised during their middle age had half the risk of developing dementia with age.”

Here are some ways you can keep your brain fit and reduce the risk of dementia:

  • Step it up by walking every day. A Harvard study has shown that if you walk for 1.5 hours a week (or less than 13 minutes per day), you can delay developing dementia by at least 1.5 years.
  • Exercise with force. Another Dalhousie University study suggests the more vigorously a person exercises, the more they can reduce their risk.
  • Use saunas. A University of Eastern Finland study has shown that men who use saunas more than four times a week reduce the risk of developing dementia by two-thirds.
  • Cut down on alcohol and tobacco usage. Excess alcohol raises your blood pressure (BP) and cholesterol. Smoking narrows your blood vessels, leading to increased BP and the risk of developing heart disease, cancer and dementia.
  • Play brain-training games. Games like Bingo, trivia and word puzzles can help improve your memory.
  • Try the DASH diet. Observational studies on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) have shown it can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by up to 53% as well as slow cognitive decline and improve verbal memory. The DASH diet’s principals are founded on eating natural, plant-based foods while limiting red meat, saturated fat and sweets.

“15 simple diet tweaks that could cut your Alzheimer’s risk,” Angela L. Murad, mayoclinic.org, Oct. 8, 2021.

“Preventing Dementia,” Stanford Health Care, stanfordhealthcare.org, Oct. 8, 2021.