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Any kind of physical activity lowers Alzheimer's risk

Cleaning house and doing yardwork are taking on new importance. A higher
level of physical activity — not just exercising — is linked to a
reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's disease even in people over 80,
suggests research published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.
Protective activities include washing
dishes, cooking, cleaning, gardening — even playing cards. People who
scored in the bottom 10% of physical activity were more than twice as
likely to develop Alzheimer's. Study participants did not have dementia
at the start of the four-year study, which is part of the ongoing
Memory and Aging Project at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago."The
implication of this study is really astounding," says physician Aron
Buchman, the lead author. "Exercise is good, without a doubt, but this
study is about more than exercise. Older people who might not be able to
exercise can tailor activities that are right for them."There
is no cure or drug to delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease, which
affects about 5 million people in the USA; numbers are expected to
triple as Baby Boomers get older. Aging is the main risk factor.During
the study, 71 of the 716 study participants developed Alzheimer's.
Study authors say this is the first study to use an objective
measurement of all physical activity in addition to self-reports.
Participants wore an actigraph on their wrists to assess levels of
activity.The mean score for participants was
3.3 hours per week. Intensity of exercise also mattered: People in the
bottom 10% of intensity of physical activity were almost three times as
likely to develop Alzheimer's.The study is
the latest evidence that physical activity, even in later years, aids in
delaying Alzheimer's. The study did not attempt to measure which
activities were most helpful."We've known
that muscle activity generates neurons in the brain, but this study
gives us additional motivation," says physician Gary Kennedy, director
of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, who
was not associated with the study. "It shows you don't have to go to the
gym. Older people very often don't want to do that."Results
did not vary by age, sex or education. The authors also looked at
chronic health and genetic factors. Among the findings:•Body mass index, depressive symptoms or vascular risk factors did not change the association between activities and risk.

•The gene APOE4, which puts people at higher risk for developing Alzheimer's, did not change the results.

Alzheimer's
develops for years prior to symptoms occurring, notes Kennedy. The
authors tried to control for that possibility by administering baseline
cognitive tests. "This is an important
message for society as the largest growing segment of our population is
old people," says Buchman. "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."In
an accompanying editorial, the authors cite physical activity as a
promising, low-cost, easily accessible and side-effect-free means to
prevent Alzheimer's.


Added: Apr-19-2012 Occurred On: Apr-19-2012
By: Jhurst
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Tags: news
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