Daily Physical Activity May Reduce Alzheimers RiskNew research shows that daily physical activity may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, even in people over the age of 80.

According to researchers at Rush University Medical Center, all physical activity — whether it is exercise or household chores, such as cooking or cleaning — are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

“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,” said Dr. Aron S. Buchman, lead author of the study and associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush.

To measure total daily physical activity, researchers from Rush asked 716 individuals who did not have dementia to wear a device called an actigraph, which monitors activity, on their non-dominant wrist continuously for 10 days.

All exercise and other physical activity was recorded. Study participants, who had an average age of 82, also were given annual cognitive tests during the study to measure memory and thinking abilities. Participants also self-reported their physical and social activities.

Those participating in the study were individuals from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing community study of common chronic conditions of old age. In followup studies, it was discovered that 71 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease.

The research found that people in the bottom 10 percent of daily physical activity were more than twice as likely (2.3 times) to develop Alzheimer’s disease as people in the top 10 percent of daily activity.

The study also showed that those in the bottom 10 percent of intensity of physical activity were almost three times (2.8 times) as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease as people in the top 10 percent of the intensity of physical activity.

“Since the actigraph was attached to the wrist, activities like cooking, washing the dishes, playing cards and even moving a wheelchair with a person’s arms were beneficial,” said Buchman. “These are low-cost, easily accessible and side effect-free activities people can do at any age, including very old age, to possibly prevent Alzheimer’s.”

Source: Rush University Medical Center