Performing household chores, exercising, and spending time with loved ones and friends are all physical and mental activities that may help reduce the risk of dementia, according to a new study that was published online on July 27, 2022, in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study examined how these activities, together with mental exercises and the use of technological gadgets, affected individuals with and without increased hereditary risk for dementia.
According to research author Huan Song, MD, PhD, of Sichuan University in Chengdu, China, “Many studies have identified possible risk factors for dementia, but we wanted to know more about a wide variety of lifestyle behaviors and their potential significance in the prevention of dementia.” Exercise, domestic tasks, and social interactions were all associated with a lower chance of developing different kinds of dementia, according to our study.
The study included 501,376 individuals without dementia with an average age of 56 from a UK database.
At the start of the trial, participants completed questionnaires, one of which asked about their physical activity. They were questioned about how frequently they engaged in activities including walking, climbing stairs, and playing demanding sports. They were also questioned about their daily routines, work-related activities, and mode of transportation, including whether they commuted by bike or foot.
Another survey on mental activity was completed by the participants. They were questioned on their level of education, if they participated in adult education, how frequently they visited friends and relatives, went to bars, social clubs, or religious organizations, and how frequently they used technology such as computers, TVs, and phones.
Participants also disclosed if they had any members of their immediate family who were suffering from dementia. This assisted in determining whether individuals had a hereditary predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease. Participants in the study were monitored for an average of 11 years. At the conclusion of the trial, 5,185 participants had dementia.
Researchers discovered that the majority of physical and mental activities looked at revealed correlations to the risk of dementia after accounting for other characteristics including age, income, and smoking. Even after taking into account the strong connections and interactions between these activities, the findings are still significant. When compared to those who were least involved in these activity patterns, those who were highly active in regular exercise, home duties, and daily visits from family and friends had dementia rates that were, respectively, 35%, 21%, and 15% lower.
Researchers also examined the prevalence rates of dementia according to known activity patterns. People who exercised regularly had a rate of 0.45 instances per 1,000 person-years, whereas those who exercised seldom had a rate of 1.59. Person-years account for both the number of participants in a study and the duration of the study. The rate was 0.86 cases per 1,000 person-years for those who regularly performed home duties against 1.02 cases per 1,000 person-years for those who seldom did so. People who visited friends and family frequently had a rate of 0.62 cases per 1,000 person-years, compared to people who only did so occasionally, who had a rate of 0.8 cases.
According to our findings, people can lower their chance of developing dementia by participating more regularly in healthy physical and mental activities, Song said. “Our findings need to be confirmed by other study. Our findings, however, suggest that adopting these straightforward lifestyle modifications can be advantageous.”
Whether or not they had a family history of dementia, the participants all benefited from the preventive impact of physical and mental activities, according to the study’s findings.
Because participants in the research described their own physical and mental activity, there was a risk that they might not have accurately remembered and reported these activities.
The National Clinical Research Center for Geriatrics, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, and National Natural Science Foundation of China all provided funding for the study.