We know that exercise is an effective way to combat cognitive decline. Blood flow to the brain increases and neurons are better oxygenated and nourished, something that is great for our memory and mental acuity. We also take for granted that as we age, the capacity of our muscles will deteriorate, making it difficult for us to perform relatively simple movements over the years such as getting up, sitting down or carrying a shopping bag. However, it may be a more important health indicator than it seems.
A woman with dementia hugs her daughter after remembering she is her mother
According to research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia, this decline in muscle strength could be a sign of dementia, a disease that will affect 150 million people worldwide by 2050. To test this hypothesis, the researchers worked with data from the Perth Longitudinal. The Aging in Women Study, which included a cohort of more than 100 women with an average age of 75 years.
Grip strength and cognitive decline
The teams measured participants’ grip strength, the time it took them to stand up, walk three meters, turn around and sit down again, known as a TUG. They repeated the same test at five years to see if they took longer this time and thus examined the loss of performance.
The scientists confirmed that women who were found to have less strength and less movement were twice as likely to develop dementia in the last years of their lives. Similarly, people who had decreased ability in the second test were more likely to develop the disease in the future. In fact, the odds of dying from dementia were increased fourfold among women who had worsened TUG the most after five years.
Over the next 15 years, the teams found that about 17% of the women were hospitalized for dementia, or even died of dementia. The team assures that this indicator is not affected by genetics, nor by other habits such as alcohol consumption, smoking or the amount of exercise done.
“The inclusion of muscle function tests as part of dementia screening may be useful in identifying those at high risk, who may benefit from primary prevention programs aimed at preventing disease onset, such as a healthy diet.” and a physically active lifestyle,” says lead researcher Dr. Mark Sim. “Both the grip strength and TUG tests are not commonly performed in clinical practice, but both are inexpensive and simple screening tools,” he says. .
Although the results are supported by fieldwork, Sim is cautious: “The exciting findings were that reductions in these measures were associated with a significantly increased risk, suggesting that if we could prevent this reduction, we would be able to stop it too late.” may be able to prevent dementia. However, more research is needed in this area.”