April 19, 2012
Daily Exercise Lowers Risk Of Alzheimer’s
Connie K. Ho for RedOrbit.com
A new study by the neurological researchers of Rush University Medical Center has found that daily activity can reduce the onset of Alzheimer´s disease and cognitive decline.The report, published in the online issue of the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, describes how activities done on a day-to-day basis can reduce the 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,” noted Dr. Aron S. Buchman, lead author of the study and associate professor of neurological sciences at Rush, in a prepared statement.
716 older individuals without dementia participated in the experiment by wearing an actigraph that could measure daily exercise and non-exercise physical activity. They wore the device on their wrist for ten days and, every 15 seconds, the actigraph would record an activity on a chip; if a patient didn´t move at all, it would record a zero. Apart from the actigraph, participants also underwent cognitive tests to determine memory and thinking abilities as well as self-reported any social or physical activities.
"This is the first study to use an objective measurement of physical activity in addition to self-reporting," explained Buchman in the statement. "This is important because people may not be able to remember the details correctly."
After an average of three and a half years of follow up, 71 patients developed Alzheimer´s disease and the research showed that people who were in the bottom 10 percent of physical activity were three times more likely to develop Alzheimer´s as compared to those in the top 10 percent who participated in intense physical activity.
"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," concluded Buchman in the statement.
Health professionals believe that the study can spread an important public health message.
"We've known that muscle activity generates neurons in the brain, but this study gives us additional motivation," noted physician Gary Kennedy, a director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York who has no affiliation to the study, in a USA Today article. "It shows you don't have to go to the gym. Older people very often don't want to do that."
People of all ages should incorporate exercise in their daily activities, with tasks like cooking, cleaning, or washing the dishes, that can cut the risk of developing Alzheimer´s.
"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 disease,” remarked Michal Schnaider-Beeri, PhD, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, in an accompanying editorial.
Lastly, with this particular study, it is important to take into account that there will be 80 million Americans who are 65-years-old or older by 2030.
"This is an important message for society as the largest growing segment of our population is old people," remarked Buchman in an interview with USA Today. "We need to be encouraging physical activities even in very old individuals, even if their health doesn't allow them to take part in fitness programs."