An important new study shows that any physical activity, not just exercising, is linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
The finding should be considered by people in middle age, since the disease develops for years before any symptoms occur. Protective activities included washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, gardening and even playing cards.
Study subjects had no signs of dementia at the start of the study, which is part of the ongoing Memory and Aging Project at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
This is the first study to use an objective measure of physical activity in addition to self-reports. Participants wore an actigraph on their wrists to assess levels of activity. Those in the bottom 10 percent for physical activity were almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Quoted in USA Today, study leader, physician Aron Buchman says, “The implication of this study is really astounding. Exercise is good, without a doubt, but his study is about more than exercise. People who might not be able to exercise can tailor activities that are right for them.”
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