Pick up a scrub brush and wipe out dementia?

The Globe and Mail

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Do the dishes and dodge dementia.

Okay, it’s not quite as simple as that, but a new study has found that any physical activity – even if it’s just boring household chores – may help prevent Alzheimer’s. In the study, published this week in the journal Neurology, 716 men and women in their 70s and 80s wore motion-sensitive devices on their wrists for 10 days to record their activity level – that is, any time they were moving. For four years, researchers gave them annual cognitive tests and recorded what they did for physical fitness. One in 10 developed Alzheimer’s, but the higher their activity level, the less likely the diagnosis. To no one’s surprise, the people who participated in the most vigorous activity were significantly less likely to be diagnosed than the couch potatoes.

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But as the lead author told Time magazine’s Healthland, even a little exercise lowered the risk. “You don’t have to get a membership at the local YMCA,” Aron Buchman, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, is quoted saying. “If you walk up some 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.”

As Time points out, the report doesn’t specify what activity works best in preventing Alzheimer’s, only that every little bit helps.

We already know what definitely doesn’t help, and you are likely doing it as you read this: sitting on your tush. People who sit a lot, as recent research shows, also die sooner. (In fact, according to one study cited by The Atlantic magazine, those who sit more than 11 hours a day were 40 per cent more likely to die within the next three years than those who sat less than four hours a day.)

But do we really need one more study to tell us that working up a sweat is good for our aging brains, and that making like a couch potato brings us closer to the grave?

Probably not. But at least you use this latest research to try to convince your partner to clean the kitchen, so you can control the remote for a while.

Has all the research on the merits of moving around motivated you to be more active? (Even if it’s just pacing at your desk?)

Follow on Twitter: @ErinAnderssen

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