A study of nearly 1,500 men and women found that those who exercised for 30 minutes or more at least twice a week in their 40s and 50s had a 60% lower risk of developing dementia. A generally active lifestyle after age 60 also is believed to be protective, according to earlier studies.

Theory: Physical activity promotes the growth of new blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the brain.

Self-defense: Exercise for 30 minutes or more at least twice weekly at an intensity that induces sweating.

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