Doing 4 of these 5 activities reduced risk of Alzheimer's by 60 percent, new study says

Scan of the brain. (Shutterstock/Nomad_Soul)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Although there isn't a cure for Alzheimer's, researchers are finding that a lifestyle of certain activities can significantly decrease a person's risk for getting the disease.

The solution isn't just one thing, it's a a combination of healthy lifestyle habits.

In a new study conducted by Rush University in Chicago, people who followed at least four of five lifestyle behaviors were shown to have a 60 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia compared to people who only practiced one or two.

Another study from the U.K. found that among people with a heightened genetic risk of Alzheimer's and other cognitive diseases, dementia was 32 percent lower in those with a healthy lifestyle. Similarly, smokers had twice the risk of developing Alzheimer's dementia compared to non-smokers and those who had quit.

The recent study analyzed data from 1,845 participants in the Chicago Health and Aging Project and 920 from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. None of the participants suffered from dementia at the beginning of the study. Participants were given lifestyle scores that depended on how many of five possible healthy behaviors they subscribed to:

  • not smoking
  • exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 150 minutes a week
  • consuming a brain supporting diet
  • light-to-moderate alcohol consumption
  • engaging in late-life cognitive activities

After six years a follow-up was conducted and 608 participants had developed Alzheimer's dementia. However, analysis showed that the risk of Alzheimer's was 37 percent lower in people who practiced two of three healthy lifestyles. And 60 percent lower with participants who practiced four to five of those behaviors.

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. It is a form of dementia.