Keeping active in middle age tied to lower dementia risk

  • A very long-running Swedish study found that women with high levels of mental or physical activity in midlife were less likely to develop dementia.

A very long-running study, in which 800 Swedish women (aged 38-54) were followed for 44 years, found that women with a high level of mental activities in midlife were 46% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease and 34% less likely to develop dementia overall, compared with women with the low level of mental activities. Women who were physically active were 52% less likely to develop dementia with cerebrovascular disease and 56% less likely to develop mixed dementia, compared with women who were inactive.

Mental activities included intellectual activities, such as reading and writing; artistic activities, such as going to a concert or singing in a choir; manual activities, such as needlework or gardening; club activities; and religious activity.

Participants were given scores in each of the five areas based on how often they participated in mental activities, with a score of zero for no or low activity, one for moderate activity and two for high activity. For example, moderate artistic activity was defined as attending a concert, play or art exhibit during the last six months, while high artistic activity was defined as more frequent visits, playing an instrument, singing in a choir or painting. Low activity was defined as scores of zero to two and high activity as scores of three to 10 (44% and 56% of participants, respectively).

The physically active group ranged from light physical activity such as walking, gardening, bowling or biking for a minimum of four hours per week to regular intense exercise such as running or swimming several times a week or engaging in competitive sports. Most (82%) were in the active group.

Of the 438 women with the high level of mental activity, 104 (23.7%) developed dementia, compared to 90 (25.9%) of the 347 women with the low level of activity. Of the 648 women with the high level of physical activity, 159 (24.5%) developed dementia, compared to 35 (25.5%) of the 137 women who were inactive.

I note that distinction between those with high and low levels of activity seems very broad-brush. I don’t know why the researchers didn’t analyze the data in a more refined manner — comparing the most active with the least active would be more usual, and would be more likely to show a greater effect. But perhaps that's the point — showing that even with this smaller distinction, a significant effect is still found.

During the study, 194 women developed dementia. Of those, 102 had Alzheimer's disease, 27 had vascular dementia, 41 had mixed dementia, and 14 had other dementias. 81 (41.8%) of those with dementia also had cerebrovascular disease.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-02/uog-eai022419.php

Full text available at https://n.neurology.org/content/early/2019/02/21/WNL.0000000000007021

Reference: 

Related News

A randomized clinical trial involving 103 teenage athletes who sustained concussions while playing sports found that those who underwent a supervised, aerobic exercise program took significantly less time to recover compared to those who instead engaged in mild stretching.

A small study has found that a 12-week exercise program significantly improved cognition in both older adults with

A number of studies have found that physical exercise can help delay the onset of dementia, however the ability of exercise to slow the decline once dementia has set in is a more equivocal question. A large new study answers this question in the negative.

A Spanish study involving 101 overweight/obese children (aged 8-11) has found that aerobic capacity and motor ability is associated with a greater volume of gray matter in several cortical and subcortical brain regions.

A Finnish study involving over 1000 older adults suggests that a counselling program can prevent cognitive decline even among those with the Alzheimer’s gene.

A British study using data from 475,397 participants has shown that, on average, stronger people performed better across every test of brain functioning used.

A Finnish study involving 338 older adults (average age 66) has found that greater muscle strength is associated with better cognitive function.

A new MRI technique has revealed that it is the structural integrity of the

A review of 39 studies investigating the effect of exercise on cognition in older adults (50+) confirms that physical exercise does indeed improve cognitive function in the over 50s, regardless of their cognitive status.

An extensive review of research looking at the effects of a single bout of exercise has concluded that:

Pages

Subscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest newsSubscribe to Latest health newsSubscribe to Latest news