Physical activity staves off Alzheimer's
Study finds that exercise prevents Alzheimer's even if patient starts later in life
A new study suggests people who are physically active in their older
years may lower their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. People in
the bottom 10 percent of daily physical activity were 2.3 times more
likely to develop Alzheimer's disease over a 3.5 year period, in
contrast people in the top 10 percent of daily activity.
As the actigraph was worn on the wrist, activities such as cooking and playing cards were beneficial to the study.
The latest findings back up previous studies that have also suggested a link between increased physical activity and a reduced risk of Alzheimer's. The most recent study differs from others in that researchers included an objective measurement of people's activity levels.
The study included 716 older people, whose average age 82. Patients in the test study wore a device called an actigraph, which monitors movement and activity, on their non-dominant wrist continuously for 10 days.
Test subjects also took annual cognitive tests to measure memory and thinking abilities. None of the study participants had dementia at the beginning of the study.
Over the 3.5 year study, 71 participants develop Alzheimer's. The intensity of a person's physical activity also made a difference in the risk of developing Alzheimer's. The people in the bottom 10 percent of intensity of physical activity were 2.8 times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease as people in the top percent of the intensity of physical activity.
As the actigraph was worn on the wrist, activities such as cooking and playing cards were beneficial, Buchman said.
"These results provide support for efforts to encourage all types of physical activity even in very old adults who might not be able to participate in formal exercise, but can still benefit from a more active lifestyle," Buchman said.
One in eight people in the U.S. over age 65 has Alzheimer's disease. The number of Americans older than 65 years of age will reach nearly 80 million by 2030.
"Our study shows that physical activity, which is an easily modifiable risk factor, is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. This has important public health consequences," Buchman said.
"The results of our study indicate that all physical activities including exercise as well as other activities such as cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease. These results provide support for efforts to encourage all types of physical activity even in very old adults who might not be able to participate in formal exercise, but can still benefit from a more active lifestyle.
"This is the first study to use an objective measurement of physical activity in addition to self-reporting. This is important because people may not be able to remember the details correctly," Buchman added.
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