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[CLEAN UP!] Doing household chores tied to lower dementia risk

Physical activities such as household chores, exercise, and visiting with family and friends may help lower the risk of dementia, according to a study that looked at the effects of these activities, as well as mental activities and use of electronic devices, in people both with and without a higher genetic risk for dementia.

The study involved 501,376 people without dementia (average age, 56) from a UK database. Participants filled out questionnaires at the beginning of the study in which they were asked how often they engaged in activities such as climbing a flight of stairs, walking, and strenuous sports. They were also asked about household chores, job-related activities, and what kind of transportation they used, including walking or biking to work.

Participants completed another questionnaire on mental activities. They were asked about their education level; whether they attend adult education classes; how often they visit friends and family, pubs, social clubs or religious groups; and how often they use electronic devices such as playing computer games, watching TV, and talking on the phone.

Additionally, they reported whether they had any immediate family members with dementia. This helped researchers determine if they had a genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants were followed an average of 11 years. At the end of the study, 5,185 people had developed dementia. After adjusting for multiple factors, those who were highly engaged in activity patterns including frequent exercises, household chores, and daily visits with family and friends had 35%, 21%, and 15% lower risk of dementia, respectively, compared to people who were the least engaged in these activity patterns.

The authors conclude, “Greater adherence to a physical activity pattern of frequent vigorous and other exercise or housework-related activity, and a greater adherence to a mental activity pattern of friend/family visit, are associated with a lower risk of multiple types of dementia. Moreover,…such findings further underscore the potential of these identified physical and mental activity patterns, as effective interventive strategies, for the primary prevention of dementia among the general population.”

To download the Neurology study, “Physical and Mental Activity, Disease Susceptibility, and Risk of Dementia: A Prospective Cohort Study Based on the UK Biobank,” click here



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