A study in last month's Neurology provides more evidence that people who engage in little leisure activity are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's disease. The study, by Yaakov Stern et al. at Columbia University, New York, is noteworthy because of its size (1,772 people were observed for up to seven years), and because it was prospective, community-based, and controlled for various confounding factors. When age, ethnic group, education, and occupation were taken into account, subjects with high leisure activity were at 38 percent lower risk for developing dementia. This relationship held up even when factors such as baseline cognitive performance, health limitations that could inhibit leisure activity, cerebrovascular disease, and depression were factored in. Reading, visiting friends or relatives, going to movies or restaurants, and walking or other excursions for pleasure were most strongly associated with reduced risk of dementia. Additional statistical analyses suggested that there was a cumulative effect for each activity.—Hakon Heimer
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- Scarmeas N, Levy G, Tang MX, Manly J, Stern Y. Influence of leisure activity on the incidence of Alzheimer's disease. Neurology. 2001 Dec 26;57(12):2236-42. PubMed.