Studies have shown that vigorous exercise might help delay the onset of Alzheimer's, but not everyone is looking forward to spending their golden years jogging, swimming or brisk walking. For those too frail or out of shape. a new study has found that even mundane, low-key tasks like gardening, cooking and washing dishes can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, provided that you do it often enough.
The study published in the journal Neurology looked at 716 dementia-free men and women in their 70s and 80s for a period of 4 years. To help monitor their total everyday activity, each were given a motion-sensitive, wristwatch-like device to wear 24 hours a day for up to 10 days.
Compared with the most active people, those with the lowest levels of overall physical activity had more than double the risk of going on to develop Alzheimer’s. Greater physical activity was also associated with a slower rate of aging-related memory and cognitive decline. Says lead author Dr. Aron S. Buchman (via TIME's Healthland):
“You don’t have to get a membership in the local YMCA. If you walk up some more steps, stand up and do the dishes more, you stand to benefit because it’s incremental and adds up over the course of a full day.”
Of course, while this type of nonexercise activity can be beneficial, the study findings still suggested that exercise was the way to go in order to keep your brain in tip-top shape.