Exercise and a Mediterranean diet more than halves the risk of developing Alzheimer’s in old age, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers found that exercise alone reduces the risk by 33%, while eating fruit, vegetables, cereal and fish cuts it by 40%. When the two are combined, the risk is cut by 60%.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center looked at the physical activity and dietary habits of a community of 1,880 elderly New Yorkers with an average age of 77.
Standard neurological and psychological tests for Alzheimer’s were conducted every 18 months for five and a half years. In total, 282 of the group developed the disease.
Says study leader Dr Nikos Scarmeas: ‘It seems that the more that they were doing in terms of both diet and exercise, the lower was their risk for the disease.’
Alzheimer’s affects two thirds of around 417,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK, and the number is rising fast.