Preventing Alzheimer's by Being Active
5/16/2012 5:57 PM
What costs relatively little, is accessible to virtually all individuals regardless of age, is safe and helps to prevent the onset of a medical condition that adults almost universally fear? The answer is that physical activity – of all kinds – turns out to be an effective way to delay or even prevent the onset of the form of dementia we refer to as Alzheimer’s.
Scientists have long known that a person whose muscles get a regular workout and are generally active are actually generating new neurons in their brains. New research now shows that it is not just about exercising and working up a sweat that will confer this benefit; virtually any kind of activity is good for the brain and measurably reduces the incidence of Alzheimer’s. Research published this year has shown that basic activities like housework or yard work are linked to a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s. So, washing dishes, doing the laundry, dusting the furniture, pruning the bushes and more actually have a tangible mental health benefit.
The scientists who did the research followed more than 700 older patients who started the study with no initial signs or symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Through a combination of actual measurement of these individuals’ daily activities along with the patients’ own reports of what they did and for how long, scientists kept logs on them for four years. The actual measurement was in the form a wrist sensor that tracked movement and its duration. The average weekly physical activity for the whole group of older adults was about 3.3 hours per week.
Those who were in the bottom 10 percent of the panel who were studied were more than twice as likely as the others to develop Alzheimer’s by the end of the four years. In fact, about ten percent of the total number of individuals did develop Alzheimer’s during the course of the research.
This relationship ship between physical activity and delaying Alzheimer’s held across a range of other medical conditions like obesity, depression or even cardiovascular risk factors.
Even those patients with a gene known as a high risk for Alzheimer’s did better with more activity. So, if you have an older adult in your orbit who wants to work against Alzheimer’s they do not have to go to a gym. Just encourage them to pick up a rake or a broom or just do their own dishes or make the bed.
This research was carried out here in Chicago through the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University Medical Center and was published in the professional journal Neurology.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop
1 comment(s) so far...
By Dave Freedman on
5/22/2012 2:43 PM
Re: Preventing Alzheimer's by Being Active
Being active is solid advice for everyone. Never too early to start preventing Alzheimer’s, right?