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Leisure Activities May Prevent Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease (AD) and other forms of dementia are associated with low levels of education and occupational attainment. Other factors may influence the onset of AD, such as participation in leisure activities.

To determine the link between AD/dementia and leisure activities, the authors of this study examined 1,772 subjects (65 years or older), all residing in northern Manhattan, New York. Baseline mental health on neurologic and neurophysical examinations and leisure-activity participation were assessed; the subjects were followed for seven years to determine the onset of AD or other dementia. Thirteen leisure activities were considered, including hobbies; walking; visiting friends or relatives; reading; going to entertainment events; and playing games. Participation in six or less activities was considered low participation, while participation in more than six activities was considered high.

Two hundred and seven individuals became demented, with three-quarters of dementia cases diagnosed as AD. Dementia risk was decreased by 38% in those with high leisure-activity levels compared to those with low activity levels, after adjusting for education; occupation; ethnic group; baseline cognitive performance; health limitations; and incidence of depression.

"Exposure to an enriched environment, defined as a combination of more opportunities for physical activity, learning, and social interaction, produces not only a host of structural and functional changes in the brain but also influences the rate of neurogenesis in adult and senescent animal models," the authors write.

Scarmeas N, Levy G, Tang MX, et al. Influence of leisure activity on the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Neurology 2001:57, pp. 2236-2242.


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Date Last Modified - Monday, 27-Jul-2009 09:13:53 PDT