London: Being engaged in mundane household chores like cooking, cleaning and washing dishes could help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease even in those over 80 years of age, a new study has claimed.
The study, which was published in the journal Neurology, included 716 dementia-free men and women in their 70s and 80s who had to wear a device to monitor their daily activities. They were also given cognitive tests to measure memory and thinking ability.
After around three years, 71 of the volunteers developed Alzheimer's disease, and it was found that the least active were more than twice as likely to develop the disease as those who were most active.
"The results of our study indicate that all physical activities including exercise as well as other activities such as cooking, washing the dishes, and cleaning are associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease," said study author Dr Aron Buchman of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
"These results provide support for efforts to encourage all types of physical activity even in very old adults who might not be able to participate in formal exercise, but can still benefit from a more active lifestyle."
Dr Anne Corbett at the Alzheimer's Society said: "It is well established that regular physical exercise is an important way to reduce your risk of developing dementia.
"It can reduce the risk by up to 45 percent. This study adds to this evidence and suggests that simple things like cooking and cleaning can also make a difference.
"One in three people over 65 will die with dementia, but as this shows, there are things you can do to help reduce your risk. It is important to maintain a healthy weight and stop smoking.
"Eating a Mediterranean diet high in antioxidants and oily fish and even the odd glass of red wine can also help." Dr Simon Ridley, head of research at the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, said: "While the study highlights an association between physical activity and cognitive decline, more research is needed to explore this relationship further."