Many Americans fear Alzheimer ’s disease, and with good reason. Nearly 5.5 million of us already have it, and those numbers are expected to rise in the next decade. We fear it not only because of the impact cognitive decline would have in our own lives, but because of the suffering and expense it would entail for our loved ones.
There’s hope in a new study that finds a simple and effective way to stave off dementia. More than 700 healthy patients (average age 82) enrolled in the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University Medical Center took part in the study, which was later published in the April 24 issue of the journal Neurology.
The volunteers kept a journal of their physical and social activity, and each wore a monitor and actograph on their wrists that tracked their activities for 10 days. Researchers followed their progress for 3.5 years, during which 71 developed Alzheimer ’s disease.
The researchers learned that activity and exercise appeared to make a difference. The volunteers in the bottom 10 percent of activity level were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as the top 10 percent of exercisers.
The study added to a growing body of research supporting the association between higher levels of daily physical activity and a reduced risk of Alzheimer ’s disease. Studies have also examined the role of exercise in preserving cognitive abilities and concluded that it should not be overlooked as an important therapy against dementia.
Does your health regimen include a strategy for cognitive health support? Share with us!