Active days cut Alzheimer’s risk

By Siski Green , Tuesday 24 April 2012

It’s never too late to increase your daily level of physical activity and reduce your chances of developing dementia
GardeningKeeping active around the home and garden can reduce your risk of Alzheimer's

Researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago asked 716 participants with an average age of 82 to wear actigraphs to assess their activity levels. An actigraph is a watch-sized device that is worn on the wrist and calculates how much time you spend at rest or in a state of physical activity. Time spent gardening, doing the washing up, cooking or even playing cards causes the device to register activity. Over the study period of three and a half years, the participants were also given yearly check-ups to assess memory, and general cognitive abilities.

None of the study participants had signs of dementia at the start of the study; by the end 71 participants had developed Alzheimer’s. But those who registered in the bottom 10% of physical activity had 2.3 times the risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to those in the top 10%. At what intensity people exercised was also significant. Those who did the most intense activities were 2.8 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared to those who did the least intense.

This study backs up earlier research indicating that activity is linked to a healthy brain later in life but it also highlights that it’s never too late to start – and, good news for those who can’t run, cycle or swim, it seems that everyday activity is also of benefit.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


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  • Anne Cresswell

    Posted: Sunday 13 May 2012

    Can alzheimers be in the genes ? I wonder when it is hard to remember particular words should you persist until you remember ?


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