Scientific studies have previously demonstrated that many lifestyle factors as well as diet can have a major impact on genetic expression that either promotes of inhibits the development of Alzheimer’s dementia. Recent studies have demonstrated that insulin signaling and resistance in the brain result in the formation of amyloid protein tangles that are a hallmark of disease progression.
A new study by neurological researchers from Rush University Medical Center that will be published in the online journal of Neurology demonstrates that daily physical activity may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline, even in people over the age of 80. Integrating a healthy diet including foods known to suppress sharp insulin and glucose spikes along with sensible supplementation (curcumin, resveratrol, grape seed extract and omega-3 fatty acids) and regular physical activity may be sufficient to halt Alzheimer’s progression as we age.
All Types of Physical Activity Found to Dramatically Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk
Lead author of the study, Dr. Aron S. Buchman noted “The results of our study indicate that all physical activities including exercise as well as other activities such as cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease.” The study reinforced the concept of remaining physically active each day to ward off this devastating form of dementia.
Strenuous exercise is not essential and may hold potential health risks for the aging population. The key is to avoid becoming confined to a chair: keeping the muscles and brain active can dramatically alter brain chemistry and metabolism to prevent Alzheimer’s.
Lack of Physical Activity Nearly Triples the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease
To determine daily physical activity levels, researchers asked 716 older individuals without dementia and an average age of 82 to wear a device called an actigraph, a device attached to the wrist that monitors activity levels, for a period of ten days. Additionally, participants were given annual cognitive tests during this ongoing study to measure memory and thinking abilities. All types of physical activity from structured exercise sessions to common everyday tasks were recorded for analysis.
Over a three and a half year follow up period, 71 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers determined that those individuals in the bottom ten percent of daily physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease compared to those in the top ten percent. Further, the scientists found that those in the top ten percent as rated by physical intensity were nearly three times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s dementia, as compared to the lowest intensity group.
Dr. Buchman concluded “Our study shows that physical activity, which is an easily modifiable risk factor, is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease.” This study adds to the mounting evidence that Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented by adopting a lifestyle of healthy eating, stress-reduction, minimized exposure to pesticides and toxins and engaging in daily physical activity.