Leisure Activities May Stop Alzheimer's
Cox News Service - October 08, 2003 WEST PALM BEACH,
Participation in a variety of leisure
activities during early and middle adult years appears
to lower a risk of developing Alzheimer's disease,
according to a study in a recent issue of The Journal
of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.
"The idea that mental activity is good for the
brain is not unlike the idea of 'use it or lose it'
when it comes to keeping the body fit," says
Ross Andel of the University of South Florida School
of Aging Studies, an author of the study.
Using data from the Swedish Twins Registry, researchers
analyzed information on same-sex twins born between
1886 and 1925 who filled out questionnaires in the
1960s and participated in clinical follow-ups in the
'80s and '90s. The follow-ups included testing for
In an analysis of 107 twin pairs, where one twin was
diagnosed with some type of cognitive impairment while
the other was cognitively intact, greater participation
in leisure activities was found to reduce the risk
of developing Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
When researchers compared data on men and women directly,
they did not find significant differences. However,
intellectual cultural activity was more protective
for women than for men, a discovery that Andel said
He speculates that men in the generation studied might
have had occupations that provided intellectual-cultural
activity, whereas women had to become intellectually
involved through social participation. Leisure activities
that the twins reported in the 1960s _ then ages 42-68
_ were reading, social visits, theater- and movie-going,
club and organization participation, gardening and
other outdoor activities, and playing sports.
Carolyn Susman writes for The Palm Beach Post. E-mail: