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davidbetterman's avatar

Is it possible that inactivity and television cause Alzheimers?

Asked by davidbetterman (7550points) April 9th, 2010

inspired by Captain Harley

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17 Answers

Snarp's avatar

Probably not. But it can’t help. Exercise does improve oxygen flow to the brain.

CaptainHarley's avatar

MOST likely, yes! [ Way to pick up on something I said! ] : D

CaptainHarley's avatar

Sources? Why CaptainHarley, of course! : D

janbb's avatar

(Hits head!) Ach – why didn’t I realize that?

Coloma's avatar

I think Alzheimers is genetically predisposed like a lot of things.

Keeping ones mind/brain stimulated through exercise, learning, new challenges is great, but…I don’t think there is a lot that ultimately will matter.

Every study on just about everything contradicts itself at one point or another.

What was the new article yesterday on how eating lots of fruits & veggies really has little impact on health. lol

I say just live and stop worrying…somethings gotta get ya sooner or later.

I’m the slide out sideways, wine in one hand chocolate in the other type!

Likeradar's avatar

I can’t cite any sources but I have read that people who do mentally stimulating things, such as continuing formal education or regularly playing crossword puzzles into old age are less likely to develop Alzheimers.

msbauer's avatar

most likely YES! im doing a lot of this kind of research for my thesis and while i haven’t read everything on the subject, i have read a good bit. certainly there will be genetic predispositions, but research is starting to suggest that we may have the power to overcome them in some instances. one study conducted by the researchers i cited below addressed this directly. here’s a summary from my thesis (strange participant pool, wasn’t it?)...

Participants were 801 older Catholic priests, nuns, and brothers diagnosed as not having any form of dementia at the study’s start. Twenty cognitive tests were used to assess episodic memory, semantic memory, working memory, perceptual speed, and visuospatial ability. The frequency of participation in cognitive leisure activities (those activities requiring “information processing”) was assessed and included the following activities: watching television, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper, reading magazines, reading books, playing games (e.g., cards, checkers, crosswords), and going to museums. Physical activity was also assessed and included such activities as exercise, gardening, and swimming. At a follow-up of about four and half years, 111 participants had developed Alzheimer’s (M = 81 years, as compared to those who did not develop Alzheimer’s, M = 74 years). A 1-point increase in cognitive activity score (range of 1.57 to 4.71) was associated with a significant 33% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s. Also, a 1-point increase in cognitive activity was associated with a significant reduced decline in global cognition (by 47%), working memory (by 60%), and perceptual speed (by 30%). To eliminate the possible explanation that some participants were in the early stages of Alzheimer’s at the study’s beginning, episodic memory (noted to be affected in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s) and existence of the ApoE4 allele (an established risk factor for Alzheimer’s) were measured, but neither produced significant differences between the groups. Also, physical activity was not related to reduced decline in any measure of cognitive functioning. In sum, greater participation in daily cognitively-stimulating activities reduced several aspects of cognitive decline and one’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Sorry if that was a bit dense, but it was such a neat study that I think you should have all the info!

Source: Wilson, R. S., Mendes de Leon, C. F., Barnes, L. L., Schneider, J. A., Bienias, J. L., Evans, D. A., & Bennett, D. A. (2002). Participation in cognitively stimulating activities and risk of incident Alzheimer disease. JAMA, 287, 742–748

Petelad's avatar

Maybe Alzheimers is something that happens, & doesn’t have to occur because of some particular set of events, or circumstances. (I favour the use it or lose it viewpoint though).

phoebusg's avatar

As far as Inactivity – Possibly. Television does not necessarily equal inactivity. But what is certain is that inactivity makes the severity of the disease quite high, and chances of functional recovery low. The higher the intelligence and activity of the individual, the more likely it is they will fare better.

filmfann's avatar

<blinks> Huh?

skfinkel's avatar

Is it the TV and inactivity that causes Alzheimer’s? or is it that with Alzheimer’s you just sit inactively and watch TV?

phoebusg's avatar

@skfinkel good point. Way too many variables and not enough experimental proof to establish a causal relationship. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it :)

Likeradar's avatar

@phoebusg and @skfinkel I assume there have been longitudinal studies about this… hum, gonna look into it eventually.

EdgeoftheUniverse's avatar

If you don’t use it you lose it.

It’s possible Alzheimers is just the end result of the type of personality that lies to themselves and denies reality. Think about it, the brain is plastic. If you excersize such neuropathways thinking that way all the time couldn’t you get to a point where it had a drastic effect on your senile old mind?

Or perhaps genetics, or environmental stressors…

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