Physical activity including household chores and DIY linked to lower dementia risk

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By Quang Tran | Wednesday 27 July 2022

Researchers in China have found that vigorous physical activity, whether for leisure, work or through household chores is associated with a reduced risk of developing dementia. The scientific journal Neurology published the findings today (Thursday 26 July).

What did the researchers do?

Over 500,000 volunteers with an average age of 56 self-reported the amount and type of physical activity they do as part of the UK Biobank study. Activities reported included walking for pleasure, doing DIY and housework and getting to and from work.

The researchers also asked volunteers about their education levels, how often they visited friends and family, watched tv, used their mobile phones or played computer games at the start of the study.

What did they find?

The volunteers were followed up for an average of 10 years, with 5,185 people in the study developing dementia during that time.

For physical activity, a higher level most of the activities studied was associated with a lower risk of dementia.

For mental activity, watching TV was associated with a higher risk of dementia, but seeing family or friends, or doing other group activities was associated with a lower risk of dementia.

Our expert opinion on the findings

 Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Our brains are incredibly complex, responsible for our memory, as well as what we think, feel and do. Keeping our brains healthy as we age can help stave off diseases like Alzheimer’s, which physically attack brain cells, tearing away at the very essence of who we are.

“We know that being physically and socially active can help us feel happier, healthier and more positive in general. Lifting weights and running marathons aren’t for everyone, but there are many ways that we can stay physically active in our lives. This self-reported study adds to evidence that finding something you can stick to that keeps you physically and socially active is likely to have the greatest benefit to your health, rather than the activity itself. The researchers found that even people with a high genetic risk for Alzheimer’s, the most common cause of dementia, could benefit from keeping physically active.

“Loving your heart, staying sharp and keeping connected with other people are three easy to follow rules to help keep your brain healthy as you age. Visit www.thinkbrainhealth.org.uk to find information and advice on brain health.”

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Quang Tran