Older people, even those over the age of 80, can cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by being physically active, a new study reports in the latest issue of Neurology.
Researchers say that doing routine activities like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes or even playing cards can help people reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study included 716 older participants without dementia with an average age of 82. The participants were asked to wear a device called an actigraph (a device that measures activity) on their wrist continuously for 10 days.
“Participants wore the actigraph for 24 hours a day, so it measured all the movements made throughout the day,” Dr. Aron S. Buchman, said lead author of the study and professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center. “Every 15 seconds, it would record activity on a little chip, if you weren’t moving, it would record a zero.”
The study participants’ daily physical activity was monitored. The participants even underwent annual cognitive tests that measure memory and thinking abilities.
Over a period of 3.5 years, 71 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers found that people who were least physical active during the study period were more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
“Since the actigraph was attached to the wrist, activities like cooking, washing the dishes, playing cards and moving wheelchair with a person’s arms were beneficial,” said Buchman. “These are low-cost, easily accessible and side-effect free activities people can do at any age, including very old age, to possibly prevent Alzheimer’s.”
According to 2011 Alzheimer’s disease Facts and Figures, an estimated 5.4 million people have Alzheimer’s disease that is one out of every eight older American.
‘In 2012, the direct costs of caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias to American Society will total an estimated $200 billion’, says Alzheimer’s Association. ‘The disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and the only cause of death among top 10 in the U.S that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed’.
By 2050, it is estimated that, the care costs of Alzheimer’s and other dementias will soar to $1.1 trillion.
According to National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills and, eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks of daily living. In most people with Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear after the age 60.
Reports say that the number of American older than 65 years of age will double to 80 million by 2030.
“Our study shows that physical activity, which is easily modifiable risk factor, is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. This has important public health consequences,” said Buchman.
The study was conducted by neurological researchers from Rush University Medical Center.