The Spice of Life: Variety in Leisure and Physical
Activity May Reduce Dementia Risk
By Trent Stockton
The variety of leisure and physical activity one
engages in — and not its intensity in terms of
calories expended — may reduce dementia risk in older
people, School of Medicine researchers report.
An association between variety of activity and
dementia risk, however, did not hold up in those with the
so-called APOE-4 genetic predisposition to the disease,
found in about one-quarter to one-third of Alzheimer's
patients, according to a study in the April 1 issue of the
American Journal of Epidemiology.
General physical activity is already known to enhance
cardiovascular health and help maintain independence and
quality of life in older people. The results of this study
— which establish a statistical association, and not
a direct cause and effect, between variety of exercise and
reduced dementia risk — suggest that participating in
a number of different activities may be as or more
important than frequency, duration and intensity of
physical activity with respect to dementia risk.
"We don't yet know why this association exists or what
causes it," said Constantine G. Lyketsos, professor of
psychiatry and behavioral sciences and
senior author of the report. "It could well be that
maintaining a variety of activities keeps more parts of the
brain active, or that this variety reflects better
engagement in both physical and social activities.
Confirmation of this association in future studies may
provide an additional impetus for people to remain or
become engaged in several physical and other leisure
activities later in life."
GO TO APRIL 18,
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
GO TO THE GAZETTE