The results of a long-term study that was recently presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s disease in Hawaii may give hope to those who are looking for a natural way to help prevent the debilitating condition as well as other forms of cognitive decline.
For the study, a research team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital assessed the 24-hour physical activity level of 1,200 elderly patients between the ages of 71 and 81, and followed them for as many as 20 years.
Over the study period a total of 242 patients had developed cognitive decline, including 193 who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Lead author Zaldy Tan and her colleagues found that patients who reported performing moderate to heavy levels of activity were 45 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, compared to those who exercised the least.
While earlier research identified a link between physical activity and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease among the elderly, the current study’s findings may speak the loudest.
"This is the first study to follow a large group of individuals for this long a period of time," Tan said. "It suggests that lowering the risk for dementia may be one additional benefit of maintaining at least moderate physical activity, even into the eighth decade of life."