IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Variety key to fighting dementia, study finds

A variety of activities like exercise, household chores and even dancing, can help people avoid Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, U.S. researchers said.
/ Source: Reuters

A variety of activities like exercise, household chores and even dancing, can help people avoid Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

They found that variety was more important for preventing dementia than total calories burned in exercise and other physical activities.

“We don’t yet know why this association exists or what causes it,” said Dr. Constantine Lyketsos, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University.

“It could well be that maintaining a variety of activities keeps more parts of the brain active, or that this variety reflects better engagement in both physical and social activities,” he added in a statement.

The study included 3,375 men and women over the age of 64 who did not have dementia when the program began.

All types of dementia
Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, Lyketsos and colleagues said each volunteer answered questions about the frequency and duration of physical activities such as walking, household chores, gardening, dancing, bowling or swimming.

Researchers then created an activity index, and considered other factors such as age, gender, education level, ethnicity, smoking and alcohol use.

Over the next 5 years, 480 people developed dementia. Of those, only 84 who listed four or more activities developed dementia, as opposed to 130 who listed one activity or none.

The association held true for all types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

The study also took into consideration what type of APOE gene people had. APOE, or apolipoprotein-E, is related to cholesterol metabolism and people with one particular variant of this gene called APOE-4 have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.

And in the study, exercise and other activities did not protect people with APOE-4.

An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, and this number is projected to reach 16 million by 2050, as the population ages, unless ways are found to prevent it.