According to the research by Melbourne scientists, routine physical and mental exercises can delay the onset of the hereditary Huntington's disease.

The genetic condition develops over time damaginh the cells of the brain and nerves gradually causing a loss of all or most faculties. One in 10,000 people is affected with this disease around the ages of 30 to 50 and it is incurable.

For many patients with Huntington's disease, the choice to have children is the most difficult one to make as their children will carry at least 50 per cent risk of developing the condition.

The research conducted at the Murdoch Childrens's Research Institute involved about 154 patients from Australia and New Zealand who had the genetic condition.

Professor Martin Delatycki, lead researcher said the onset of Huntington's disease is increased by at least 4 years in people (with genetic factor) who had sedentary non-active lifestyle.

People with a genetic predisposition to the disease could significantly delay its onset by minimizing passive activities and ensuring they incorporate physical and intellectual activity in their daily lives, said Prof Delatycki.

He said mental exercises like puzzles, cross words or Sudoku can be very helpful.

People at risk of Huntington's disease (should) avoid spending long periods of time in passive activities ... All of us need down time and watching television is part of that. But what we're saying is don't spend hours and hours a day in passive activities.

Find activities that have physical elements, intellectual elements. And we believe that this can delay the onset of the condition, he said.It is also crucial that the active lifestyle be initiated from a young age, said Prof Delatycki.