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Physical Activity vs Alzheimer's Dementia

Posted Apr 20 2012 3:00am
What a day!  I drove over 100 miles from one end of Clark County to the other making home visits yesterday.  Started out in an assisted living facility close to the 95 & Cheyenne, then gradually worked my way down 4 private residences to 95 & Decatur before heading out to North Las Vegas to 3 more homes around 15 & Craig.  Then I went south into Henderson, actually closer to Boulder City than Las Vegas, past where 215 & 515/95 meet, before venturing up towards Seven Hills off 215 & Eastern.  Needless to say, I didn't get home til late in the evening.  But what made the day memorable for me was the number of patients w/ dementia that I saw.  And each of their families & caregivers asked the same question:  how can I prevent this from happening to me?

I gave them all the same answer as published two days ago in Neurology - physical activity!  The authors followed for 4 years 716 participants average 82yo of whom three quarters were female, all w/o baseline dementia and noted that total daily physical activity (as measured by actigraphy ) was associated w/50% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, even after taking into account the usual suspects, eg social & cognitive activities, motor function, depression, chronic health issues & genetics (APOE alleles).  More specifically, this dramatic decrease was noted by comparing those in the highest decile of total daily physical to those in the lowest decile, again as measured objectively by actigraphy worn 24 hours/day for upwards of 10 days.

It's worth noting that while we continue to advise & advocate exercising moderately at least 30 minutes most days of the week , this relatively minor amount of physical activity only accounts for 1.5-3% of our time each week.  Granted we're hopefully sleeping 33% of the week (8hrs/day) but as I noted last month, this still leaves 64% of the day unaccounted .  The point is this: get off your a-- and move around.  It'll lower your risk of developing dementia and it'll lower your all-cause mortality .  Think about it - you get two benefits for the price of one.  Don't wait!  Starting getting active throughout your day today!

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