Recent studies show Alzheimer’s disease may soon outpace heart disease.
Do you find that information as alarming as I do? Has Alzheimer’s or dementia affected someone you know?
A Recent Study on Preventing Alzheimer’s
Presently, there’s no known cure. However, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reported there are things we can do to help prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia:
“Among leisure activities, reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments, and dancing were associated with a reduced risk of dementia.”
I find this info absolutely amazing and exciting. So, we don’t have to engage in tortuous, mind-bending exercises in order to lower our risks for developing Alzheimer’s. By participating in fun, stress-relieving activities, we may be able to ward off the stinking, heart-breaking, brain-erasing disease.
Now, doesn’t that make you want to get up and do a happy dance?
More Good News
An article in Getting Healthier titled How Dancing Can Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease addresses how creative thinking and making decisions helps improve memory and brain function. Here are some recommendations it lists for activities that involve creative thinking:
- Ballroom dancing
- Crossword puzzles
- Learning a foreign language
- Small detail crafts such as needlework, knitting and sewing
- Cooking classes and practice
- Learning a new skill
Which ones sound good to you?
Seems like my altered art scrapbooking would fall under the “small detail crafts.” Woo hoo!
Cooking classes and practice? Ugh, not my cup of tea, but I may have to get back into the kitchen. Once upon a time, I used to bake very cool and delicious dishes and desserts.
Another stellar article I found is titled Dancing Makes You Smarter, Longer. It’s from Stanford (link is listed below) and it discusses that same study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The article states “One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits, of course, but the focus of this study was the mind.
“There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.
- Reading – 35% reduced risk of dementia
- Bicycling and swimming – 0%
- Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week – 47%
- Playing golf – 0%
- Dancing frequently – 76%. That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.”
According to Juliette Siegfried, Master of Public Health, “Improvements to cognitive function occur when we learn something new, something we haven’t done before. The dancers in the recent study who showed the most resistance to dementia practiced what is referred to as freestyle social dancing – foxtrot, waltz, swing, tango, and Latin dance.”
This is great news for me since dancing is my favorite form of exercise. I usually dance at home while I’m cleaning.
Last week I started a beginner’s tap dance class at a local senior citizen center. Anyone 50 and over qualifies as a senior. For $3.00 a lesson, you can’t beat that.
While it may not be ballroom dancing, I’ll still learn new skills by taking tap. My senior center offers ballroom dancing classes, too. I guess I could sign up by myself, but I’d rather take it with George. Dancing is not his passion, though.
Talent is Not Required
Unfortunately, dancing is not appealing to many men. However, it goes without saying we do not have to be talented as far as doing those recommended leisure activities in order to improve our memories and lower our risk of getting dementia or Alzheimer’s. We reap the benefits throughout the process of learning new skills.
So, regardless of having two left feet, no rhythm, no experience in dancing or doing those other activities, our brains still improve.
Experts suggest we start doing these activities now and keep doing them frequently.
Loved Ones Affected by Alzheimer’s
My father has had slow progressing Alzheimer’s for years. He’s physically fit and at almost 85 years old plays tennis two or three times a week. Dad used to do crossword puzzles every day, which should have lowered his risk by 45% according to that study. And, man, can he dance.
So, why did he get this dreaded disease? My hunch is his diet has contributed to his Alzheimer’s. Although I can’t prove it, there are plenty of unhealthy additives in processed foods and beverages, so we’ll address nutrition and healthy eating in future posts.
Part 2 will cover another fun activity which is helpful in preventing Alzheimer’s, plus it helps people who already have it.
What are your thoughts? Are you familiar with this study? Do you participate in any of those leisure activities? Are there any new ones that sound appealing to you?
I’d love to hear from you.
Please share this valuable information with others. Let’s spread the good news.
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