Staying Active Fends Off Alzheimer's, Even In People Over 80 | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Staying Active Fends Off Alzheimer's, Even In People Over 80

Activity cuts the risk of Alzheimer's disease and slows cognitive decline, even in the very old, according to a new study.

There's been plenty of evidence for the "use it or lose it" theory of brain capacity. But this study is one of the first to show that activity of all sorts benefits people over age 80, even if they're not "exercising".

"When we say active lifestyle, it's not just about physical activity," says Aron Buchman, an associate professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who co-authored the study. Social interaction is probably just as important as physical activity, Buchman told Shots.

Indeed, recent research has shown that even speaking more than one language reduces the risk of dementia.

"Going to the theater, going to church going to play bingo — from a pragmatic point of view, we have almost limitless ability to leverage higher levels of activity," Buchman says.

The researchers found that the most active people — those who were doing housework, meeting with friends, walking, playing cards — had much less risk of Alzheimer's and other dementias over four years than did the least active people. The average age joining the study was about 82. The 716 participants in this study live in the Chicago area.

This study is unusual because it didn't ask people to remember their activities, as do most studies of this type. Instead, it had people wear a tiny monitor called an actigraph on their wrists, which recorded their motions night and day. Earlier studies also tended to ask about exercise. This passive, objective measurement let the researchers get a much clearer, more accurate sense of people's activity.

The research was published in the journal Neurology.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'The Book Of Strange New Things' Treads Familiar Territory

Michel Faber's best-seller, The Crimson Petal and the White, captured the feel of Victorian London. His latest is a literary science-fiction tale that might disappoint hard core sci-fi fans.
NPR

A Traditional Strudel Recipe 'Pulled' From The Past

It's hard work to stretch pastry dough as large as a tabletop. That's why few people still make tahana strudla the traditional way. But for Sasa Woodruff, the strudel is a link to her Slovak roots.
NPR

The Devastating History of Midterm Elections

Over the past century, midterm elections have been pretty rough on the party that holds the White House.
NPR

Moving Past The Password, But At What Cost?

Apps working with a new Twitter service would simply ask for your phone number instead of a password. In exchange, the company would get some of the most valuable information about you.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.