Daily physical exercise protects against Alzheimer’s. In a study published in Neurology 716 seniors – average age 82 – were monitored for 10 days with an actigraph, a wrist device measuring activity. Over a follow-up period averaging 3.5 years, participants in the bottom 10% of daily physical activity were 2.3 times likelier to develop Alzheimer’s than those in the top 10%. Also, participants in the bottom 10% of activity intensity were 2.8 times likelier to develop Alzheimer’s than those in the top 10%. Playing cards, cooking, physically moving a wheelchair were all beneficial. It seems Alzheimer’s is less likely to hit a “moving target”.
Seniors who keep moving with resistance training may be able to slow down or prevent dementia. A study published in Archives of Internal Medicine studied 86 women ages 70-80, who had mild cognitive impairment. The women were divided into 3 exercise groups – resistance, aerobic and balance/toning – and exercised twice a week for 6 months. However, only the resistance group showed significant improvement in executive brain functioning and associative memory, which was attributed to increased blood flow to key brain areas. Worldwide 1 case of dementia is detected every 7 seconds. Seven isn’t always a lucky number.
Moderate exercise combined with computer use decreases risk of memory loss. A study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings included 926 seniors ages 70-93, who answered questionnaires about their exercise and computer use within the past year. Of those who exercised and used a computer, 36% were cognitively normal and 18.3% showed signs of mild cognitive impairment. Of those who did neither, 20.1% were cognitively normal and 37.6% showed signs of MCI. For the computer challenged reading, games, playing music and artistic activities can be substituted. Exercise increases blood flow and mental stimulation connects neurons. However, they don’t have to be done “twogether”.
Finally, berries may delay memory decline. A study published in Annals of Neurology involved more than 16,000 women over age 70. They were questioned about food consumption every 4 years since 1980 and their memory was tested every 2 years between 1995 and 2001. Women who ate at least half a cup of blueberries or 2 half cups of strawberries weekly were likely to delay memory decline for up to 2.5 years. Berries contain flavonoids, which prevent damage to brain cells and to cellular proceedings. By the way, blueberries and strawberries are expected to have “fruitful” results for men too.