Healthy Lifestyle and Dementia

Healthy habits reduce dementia risk regardless of genetics.

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
Oct 15, 2019

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption and no smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia, even for people with genetic risk factors.

University of Exeter researchers studied data on 196,383 European adults ages 60 and older. Data analysis showed that in people with a high genetic risk of dementia, the odds of developing the disease were 32% lower in those with a healthy lifestyle than in those with unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Study author David Llewellyn, PhD, associate professor of neuro┬¡epidemiology and digital health, University of Exeter Medical School, and fellow at the Alan Turing Institute in England, said, “This research delivers a really important message that undermines a fatalistic view of dementia. Some people believe it’s inevitable they’ll develop dementia because of their genetics. However, it appears that you may be able to substantially reduce your dementia risk by living a healthy lifestyle.”

Find the study in JAMA (2019; 322 [5], 430–37).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at

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