Gardening & Dancing Can Cut Alzheimer's Risk in Half

A small amount of movement can help power your brain.

March 16, 2016
older woman gardening
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A little movement goes a long way when it comes to preventing Alzheimer's disease, new research is showing. 

In a study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers discovered that various physical activities, including walking, dancing, and even gardening, can help cut the risk of Alzheimer's disease by 50 percent and simultaneously improve brain volume, overall. 

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More: 5 Surprising Alzheimer's Triggers

Researchers studied 876 participants over a 30-year period and completed a longitudinal memory test of the patients, who were 78-years-old, on average, and followed up with MRI brain scans.

The participants were also tasked with reporting their physical activity, and logged their caloric output every week, and conclusions proved that a small increase in physical activity was directly tied to improved brain volume and a lower risk of Alzheimer's. 

"This is the first study in which we have been able to correlate the predictive benefit of different kinds of physical activity with the reduction of Alzheimer's risk through specific relationships with better brain volume in such a large sample," says Cyrus A. Raji, MD, PhD, the study's lead author.

More: 6 Essential Nutrients For Strong Mental Health

And as participants reported, even regular gardening has the ability to help decrease the risk of developing the brain disorder. 

Nancy Ondra, a gardener and author of Perennial Matchmaker, similarly sees the value of the hobby that not only has physical benefits, but also energizes the mind.

 

"Partly, I do it because it never gets boring," Ondra says. "Even if you grow the same plants and do the same things to them each year, they always perform differently because of weather conditions and other factors. And, there are always new plants to try, new combinations to experiment with, and so on." 

Need another reason to get out in the garden and invest some time in creating your perfect landscape? Your brain will thank you.