Posted on Sep 26, 2011, 6 a.m.
Seniors who expend the most energy completing daily tasks such as chores and errands are less likely to experience mental declines as they age.
Seemingly mundane tasks such as cleaning the house, folding laundry, mowing the lawn, and grocery shopping may help to ward off dementia. Todd Manini, from the University of Florida/Gainesville (Florida, USA), and colleagues studied a group of 200 older adults, average age 75 years, who 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, and were 91% less likely to experience declines in memory, concentration and language abilities after five years, as compared to those in the least active group. The team found that those subjects who burned the most calories were no more likely to say they did vigorous exercise, such as brisk walking or swimming, than those in the group that burned the fewest calories; however, they were more active overall – they reported doing more walking, they climbed more stairs, did more caregiving and more volunteering. Consequently, the researchers conclude that: “These findings indicate that greater [activity energy expenditure] may be protective against cognitive impairment in a dose-response manner.”
Laura E. Middleton; Todd M. Manini; Eleanor M. Simonsick; Tamara B. Harris; Deborah E. Barnes; Frances Tylavsky; et al. “Activity Energy Expenditure and Incident Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults.” Arch Intern Med, Jul 2011; 171: 1251 - 1257.