Everyday Activity Shows Promise As A Deterrent To Alzheimers

By  //  May 5, 2012

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Senior Care


A recently published research study out of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago evaluating the link between objectively measurable total daily physical activity and the incidence of Alzheimers disease (AD) suggests that seniors who remain active on a daily basis, participating in activity such as yard-work, walking around the house or even routine domestic tasks like cooking, may be at decreased risk of developing AD as compared to more sedentary seniors.

Active living is one of the most important aspects of a senior citizen's health and quality of life. Now recent research suggests that avoiding a sedentary life is a promising and low-cost method of preventing Alzheimer’s. (Shutterstock image)

A device that registers even minute forms of activity called an actigraph was used to monitor activity levels in 716 elderly subjects without dementia.  The study cohort had an average age of 82 and included 602 women.

Activity levels were monitored  and recorded continuously over a 10-day period, and each individual in the study then underwent structured annual clinical examinations over a four year period that included a battery of 19 cognitive tests. In those four years following the activity testing, 71 individuals in the study developed signs of AD.

The statistical analysis determined that the individuals identified on actigraphy as being in the 10% most active category were 2.3 times less likely to develop AD during the four year follow-up observation period than their inactive peers in the 10% least active category.

Dr. Buchman

Although lead study author Aron Buchman acknowledged that the study does not prove whether reduced activity levels or brain issues come first, he said the study suggests that “increasing all kinds of movements may be beneficial in the long run.”  Buchman says he is not talking about working out at the gym, but rather the most basic kinds of activity such as cooking, washing dishes, and even playing cards.

Dr. Buchman notes that with the ever-looming possibility of Alzheimer’s, which affects one in eight elderly Americans, is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only one among the top ten without a way to cure, prevent or even slow its progression, these findings could have a significant impact on public health.

In an editorial accompanying the online publication of the study in Neurology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Michal Schnaider Beeri and University of Waterloo’s Laura Middleton suggest that, “In a world that is becoming progressively sedentary, and in the context of very limited success of the currently available medications to treat or delay Alzheimer’s disease, physical activity provides a promising, low-cost, easily accessible, and side-effect-free means to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.”