Washington: Turns out, simple physical activities like gardening, walking and dancing can improve brain volume and halve the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
This research, conducted by investigators at UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh, is the first to show that virtually any type of aerobic physical activity can improve brain structure and reduce Alzheimer's risk.
The researchers studied a long-term cohort of patients in the 30-year Cardiovascular Health Study, 876 in all, across four research sites in the United States. These participants had longitudinal memory follow up, which also included standard questionnaires about their physical activity habits.
The results of the analysis showed that increasing physical activity was correlated with larger brain volumes in the frontal, temporal, and parietal lobes including the hippocampus. Individuals experiencing this brain benefit from increasing their physical activity experienced a 50 percent reduction in their risk of Alzheimer's dementia. Of the roughly 25 percent in the sample who had mild cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's, increasing physical activity also benefitted their brain volumes.
Lead author Dr. Cyrus A. Raji said that this is the first study 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.
George Perry, Editor in Chief of Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, added, "Raji et al present a landmark study that links exercise to increases in grey mater and opens the field of lifestyle intervention to objective biological measurement."
Dr. Raji commented, "We have no magic bullet cure for Alzheimer's disease. Our focus needs to be on prevention."
The study appears in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease....