Activities like gardening, dancing can decrease Alzheimer’s risk

By Rebecca Burton • Published: June 3rd, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Trimming weeds in the yard or throwing an impromptu dance party in your living room might not seem like beneficial exercise, but new research shows that virtually any type of activity involving repetitive movement can increase brain volume and decrease the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, clicking a remote may not be one of these activities, so get moving to start working those brain muscles.

The study, conducted by researchers at UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh, analyzed long-term data from a 30-year cardiovascular health study that included 876 participants from across the United States. The data included questionnaires about their daily physical activity. MRI scans were also conducted on each participant so researchers could analyze brain volume. The findings were published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The results showed that participants who regularly engaged in physical activities had a larger brain volume, including the hippocampus — the part of the brain that affects memory.  The participants’ activities were wide-ranging, from gardening to dancing to riding an exercise bike at the gym. Those who were consistent with their daily activities also experienced a 50 percent decrease in their risk of developing Alzheimer’s-related dementia.

The National Institute on Aging says that while there is no solid evidence about what can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, experts suggest staying active and eating a healthy diet as a way to improve overall health and well-being.

Now get out there and tackle those weeds, or turn up the living room stereo and just dance.