Age Matters Clinic


Toronto Geriatric Assessment and Memory Clinic

Active Lifestyle & Regular Physical Activity Lowers Alzheimer's Risk

Elderly Woman Stretching

An Active Lifestyle and Regular Physical Activity Can Help Lower the Risk of Alzheimer's Disease

Scientific studies have previously shown that many lifestyle factors such as diet can have a major impact on genetic predisposition that could promote or prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease. More recent studies have shown that insulin signalling and resistance in the brain result in the formation of amyloid protein tangles that are an indication of Alzheimer's development.

A new study by neurological researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL that will be published in the online journal of Neurology demonstrates that daily physical activity may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline, even in people over the age of 80. Following a healthy diet including foods known to suppress sharp insulin and glucose spikes along with vitamin supplements that include resveratrol, grape seed extract and omega-3 fatty acids, along with regular physical activity may work to inhibit Alzheimer's progression as we age.

Stretching Woman Helps Man

To determine daily physical activity levels, researchers asked 716 older adults without dementia at an average age of 82 to wear something called an "actigraph," a device attached to the wrist that monitors activity levels, for a period of ten days. Additionally, participants were given annual cognitive tests during this ongoing study to measure memory and thinking abilities. All types of physical activity from exercise sessions to everyday tasks were recorded for analysis.

Over a three and a half year period, 71 participants developed Alzheimer's disease. Researchers determined that those individuals in the bottom 10 percent of daily physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease compared to those in the top ten percent. Moreover, the scientists found that those in the top ten percent as rated by physical intensity were nearly three times as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, when compared to the lowest intensity group.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Aron S. Buchman commented, "The results of our study indicate that all physical activities including exercise as well as other activities such as cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease." The study reinforced the concept of remaining physically active each day to ward off this devastating form of dementia.

Strenuous exercise is not essential and may hold potential health risks for the aging population. The key is to avoid becoming physically inactive; keeping the muscles and brain active can dramatically alter brain chemistry and metabolism to prevent Alzheimer's.

Dr. Buchman concluded "Our study shows that physical activity, which is an easily modifiable risk factor, is associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease." This study adds to the mounting evidence that Alzheimer's disease can be prevented by adopting a lifestyle of healthy eating, stress-reduction, minimized exposure to pesticides and toxins and engaging in daily physical activity.

For more information about how you or a loved one can obtain a geriatric assessment at our dementia and memory clinic in Toronto, fill out our contact form, or call 647.268.0620.