Almost any type of physical activity that makes your heart pump can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, new research finds.
The more calories people burned during aerobic activity, the lower their risk of Alzheimer’s, the scientists found.
There were 15 leisure-time activities measured in the study:
- and riding an exercise cycle.
The study involved 876 people at four different locations in the US.
The average age was 78 and all were followed up over 30 years.
Those with the highest levels of calories burned saw a 50% reduction in their risk of Alzheimer’s.
The study’s authors write:
“…approximately 13% of AD [Alzheimer’s Disease] cases worldwide may be attributable to sedentary behavior.
A 25% reduction in sedentary behavior could potentially prevent more than 1 million AD cases globally.”
Brain scans also revealed that those exercising more had larger volumes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes including the hippocampus (the brain’s memory centre).
Dr Cyrus A. Raji, the study’s first author, said:
“This is the first study in which we have been able to correlate the predictive benefit of different kinds of physical activity with the reduction of Alzheimer’s risk through specific relationships with better brain volume in such a large sample.”
Professor George Perry, Editor of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, said:
“Currently the greatest promise in Alzheimer’s disease research is lifestyle intervention including increased exercise.[This is] a landmark study that links exercise to increases in grey mater and opens the field of lifestyle intervention to objective biological measurement.”
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (Raji et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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