Stay active and cultural to prevent Alzheimer’s: Middle-aged theater-goers and gym-bunnies are nearly 50% less likely to develop the disease
- Researchers split women into two groups, one that didn’t participate in mental activities – like going to concerts or gardening – and one that did
- The high level mental activity group was 46 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 34 percent less likely to develop dementia
- Women were then split again into two groups, one that was inactive and one than did light-to-intense activity
- The physically active group was 52 percent less likely to develop dementia with cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood vessels of the brain
- They were also 56 percent less likely to develop mixed dementia, when there is more than one from of dementia
Staying active and cultural in middle-age lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a new study finds.
Researchers said women who exercised and performed activities such as playing instruments or going to concerts were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than women who did not.
Previous studies have focused on how dementia risk is associated with performing physical activities or cultural activities individually.
But the team, from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, says its study is among the first to show how the two work best in conjunction to prevent or slow down the symptoms of the age-related brain disease.
A new study has found that women who exercised and performed activities such as playing instruments or going to concerts were nearly 50 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than women who did not (file image)
For the study, published in Neurology, the team followed 800 Swedish women between ages 38 and 54 from 1968 to 2012.
At the study’s start, the women were asked about their physical and mental activities, the latter defined as intellectual, artistic, manual, club and religious.
This included activities such as going to a theater, going to a concert, gardening, participating in clubs and going to church.
The participants were given scores from zero to two in each of the five categories depending on how many mental activities they took part in, with the highest possible score being 10.
The women were then divided into two groups, with the low group receiving scores from zero to two and the high group receiving scores from three to 10.
Researchers found that the high group were 46 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 34 percent less likely to develop dementia than the women in the low group.
To assess physical activity, the researchers again split the women into two groups, inactive and active.
Women in the active groups engaged in everything from low-intensity activity such as gardening or bowling to high-intensity activity such as running and swimming.
Those in the physically active group were 52 percent less likely to develop dementia with cerebrovascular disease, which affects the blood vessels of the brain and is a major factor in the degenerative disease.
Additionally, they were 56 percent less likely than the inactive women to develop mixed dementia, when sufferers have more than one from of dementia.
‘Mental activities seem to reduce Alzheimer’s [risk] while physical activities seem to be more effective for more vast forms of dementia,’ author Dr Jenna Najar, a PhD student at the University of Gothenburg told DailyMail.com.
Researchers ran the result a second time, this time excluding women who developed dementia halfway through in case they had been in the early stages of the disease.
The findings were nearly exact, but this time women who were physically active had a 34 percent lower risk of developing dementia overall.
‘Of course we were delighted to get such nice results, but we weren’t surprised,’ said Dr Najar. ‘We have previously published studies that show these type of activities seem to lower dementia risk. We confirmed what we thought we knew.’
An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2019.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that number will rise to around 14 million over the next four decades.
Women are more likely to develop the disease than men are.
Sufferers experience a decline in cognitive, behavioral and physical abilities and there is currently no cure.
‘We have no treatment for dementia so we need to look into these preventative strategies,’ said Dr Najar.
‘It’s nice for people to know that it seems mental activity is as important in preventing Alzheimer’s disease as physical activity.’