Parking yourself in front of the TV may make you as likely to develop dementia as people genetically predisposed to the condition, a Canadian study suggests. In a study of more than 1,600 adults aged 65 and older, those who led a sedentary life seemed to have the same risk of developing dementia as those who carried the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene mutation, which increases the chances of developing dementia.
Conversely, people who exercised appeared to have lower odds of developing dementia than those who didn’t, the five-year study found.
“Being inactive may completely negate the protective effects of a healthy set of genes,” said lead researcher Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
However, the study didn’t prove that lack of exercise caused dementia risk to increase. It only found an association between the two.
The APOE mutation is the strongest genetic risk factor for vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, Parkinson’s disease and, especially, Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers said. People with a single APOE “allele” may have a three to four times increased risk of dementia than non-carriers, the study authors said. How exercise may reduce the risk for dementia isn’t known, Heisz said.
These study results, however, suggest that your physical activity level can influence your dementia risk as much as your genetics, Heisz said. “You can’t change your genes, but you can change your lifestyle,” she added.
Physical activity is essential for overall health and wellness, especially in older adults. While a lack of exercise has been shown to lead to a variety of complications, studies demonstrated that inactivity could lead to dementia in older patients. For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at (915) 850-0900.