The World Health Organization published its first ever guidelines on the prevention and management of dementia Tuesday.
Physical activity was at the top of its list of recommendations for preventing cognitive decline.
Dementia affects around 50 million people globally, with nearly 10 million new cases annually. That figure is expected to triple by 2050.
The cost of caring for dementia patients is expected to hit $2 trillion by 2030.
“Dementia not only is devastating for the person with the illness, but also for families and caregivers of people with dementia,” said Dr. Neerja Chowdhary with the World Health Organization.
Other recommendations in the report included quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding harmful use of alcohol.
The report, entitled “Risk Reduction of Cognitive Decline and Dementia,” said treatment for hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes also lowers the risks.
Experts say the study did not look at the impacts of smoking marijuana and did not include environmental factors, although there was some evidence of a link with pollution.
There was too little evidence of a link of poor sleep to include it in the recommendations.
The report said that although age is the strongest known risk factor for cognitive decline, dementia is not a natural or inevitable consequence of aging.