There are a lot of things that come with age. Some are good. Others not as much. Dementia can be one of the scariest. The idea of forgetting the life you know and love and your ability to orient within it is enough to strike fear and spark a drive towards prevention.

There are more than 10 million new dementia cases diagnosed each year across the globe. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General projects that the number of dementia cases is expected to triple in the next 30 years. Now add your 30 to your age. What age does that place you?

The older you are, the higher your chances are for developing dementia. However, dementia is not a natural consequence of aging. Certain lifestyle risk factors and medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of developing dementia. Right now, 1 in 70 people age 65-69 have dementia and 1 in 4 age 86-89 have it. Based on the projections, we can expect to see a drastic increase in the number of people with dementia in the next 30 years. But we can do something about it.

The WHO has published a new set of guidelines for preventing dementia. You can find the report here. One major finding in the report is that a physically active lifestyle is linked to brain health.

WHO recommendations for physical activity:

  • People age 65 and older should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Alternately, the WHO recommends 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity or a combination of each. Your activity should last more than ten minutes per session.
  • For added health benefits, the WHO recommends that people increase the duration of aerobic activity to 300 minutes per week of moderate or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity each week.
  • People with limited mobility should perform activities that improve balance to reduce the risk of falls three or more days per week.
  • Muscle strengthening of the major muscle groups should also be done at least two days per week.

According to the WHO, the benefit of doing the exercises outweighs the harms. If you are not physically capable of getting the recommended amount of exercise due to an injury or other physical limitation, schedule an evaluation with a physical therapist. By identifying the cause of your injury or limitation, you can then work to improve mobility and strengthen the area. The physical therapist can also provide custom exercise programs to help you meet the WHO recommendations based on the limitations you currently face.

You have an opportunity right now to stop dementia from happening. Take advantage of it.