NEARLY two-thirds of people in Yorkshire are not aware that exercise could help reduce the risk of dementia.
Research by the Alzheimer’s Society to mark the start of its Memory Walks this weekend also showed that 80 per cent of people in the region are not doing the amount of exercise recommended by NHS guidelines.
The charity said regular exercise is one of the best things that can be done to reduce the risk of getting dementia, yet 64 per cent of people surveyed in Yorkshire didn’t know that regular exercise and physical activity could reduce the risk of people developing dementia.
The NHS recommends that adults should exercise at moderate intensity - such as brisk walking or cycling - for at least 150 minutes a week. But the survey showed that only 17 per cent of people are following these guidelines, while 14 per cent don’t participate in any exercise at all during an average week.
Research manager at Alzheimer’s Society, Dr Clare Walton, said the survey showed a lack of awareness about the benefits of exercise.
She said: “What’s good for the heart is good for the head and regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of developing dementia, yet many people questioned didn’t know that.
“People living with dementia should also try to keep physically active as it can bring many benefits including improved circulation, reduced stress and anxiety and better sleep.”
The charity is running a series of Memory Walks in September, including events in Roundhay Park in Leeds, on the Humber Bridge, and in Wakefield, Sheffield, Huddersfield and Bradford.
Former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva will be taking part in Leeds event on Saturday in memory of her grandmother Kate, who died with dementia in her 70s.
She said: “I’ve experienced first-hand the devastating effect dementia has on families, and it saddens me to think people aren’t aware of simple things they can do to reduce their risk of developing this terrible condition. Evidence has shown that taking regular exercise, eating a healthy balanced diet and not smoking can help prevent dementia and can also help people already living with the condition.”
Sandra Auty will be walking at the event with a group of nine friends and family, including husband Andrew, whose father Donald died in 2013 with vascular dementia. Her mother Pauline Bland also died with the condition in 2007.
Mrs Auty, 50, of Burley-in-Wharfedale, said: “People seem to aware of the need to keep their mind active, with quizzes and the likes, but don’t seem to realise the importance of exercise when it comes to the risk of dementia.
“Both my mum and Andrew’s dad were always fairly active but the link wasn’t something that was discussed.
“Taking part in the memory walk is a chance to raise awareness of dementia, but it will also be quite emotional and a chance to remember them both. It’s not a competitive race, but a lovely atmosphere.”
It is the third time the group have taken part in a Memory Walk and last year they irased over £1,300 for the charity.
To sponsor Mr and Mrs Auty justgiving.com/BurleyinWharfedale-MemoryWalk-2015
For more information on Memory Walks in the region visit www.memorywalk.org.uk.