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Household Chores can Hold Off Dementia

- Friday, September 09, 2011

Those daily activities and chores like folding the laundry may help keep dementia at bay.

New research finds that seniors who expended the most energy doing chores, running errands and simply going about their business were less likely to experience mental decline as they aged.

"All those things that you would never think of as exercise get our heart rate up and make our blood vessels pump blood," said study co-author Todd Manini, an assistant professor of aging and geriatric research at the University of Florida, Gainesville. " What this study is telling us is those other activities might also count for health benefits."

One of the challenges of the study was how challenging it is to keep track of chores and daily activities. So researchers measured how many calories people burned over the course of two weeks by having them drink a non-radioactive isotope -- basically, water that had been chemically altered slightly.

Participants, 200 older adults whose average age was 75, were divided into thirds based on how much energy they used daily, minus the amount the body needs while at rest.

Those in the most active group burned about 1,000 calories a day during activity. They were also 91% less likely to experience declines in memory, concentration and language abilities after five years than those in the least active group.

The middle-range group was also less likely to experience mental declines, but those results were not statistically significant.

So, what were those seniors who were burning 1,000 calories a day doing?

Well, they were no more likely to say they did vigorous exercise, such as walking or swimming, than those in the group that burned the fewest calories. Instead, those who burned the most calories were more active overall -- they reported doing more walking, they climbed more stairs, did more volunteering. They were people who were just moving more.

This study didn't look at younger people, but they may want to look at their daily habits, researchers added.

When people ask, 'What is the one thing I can do to keep dementia at bay?' researchers would say “exercise”. "That has the most clear-cut evidence that it will do something beneficial for your brain.”

Original article Health MSN