Some studies have found that “staying active” is linked with a lower chance of developing dementia, but not all activities are the same. A study from the University of Copenhagen and the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, published recently in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, found that those who did hard physical work for a living were 55% more likely to develop dementia than people who did sedentary work.
The study results were based on data from over 4,700 Danish men gathered as part of the Copenhagen Male Study. The researchers are now looking into whether there are ways to do hard physical work that might work more like exercise and instead prevent dementia. One drawback, according to study coauthor Andreas Holtermann of the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, is that while workplaces may come up with plans to improve worker health, generally only the more well-educated members of society will participate. Those with less education may physically work harder each day but still be fat, in pain and with poor physical fitness.
“For workmen, it is not enough, for example, to avoid heavy lifts if they wish to remain in the profession until age 70. People with a shorter education doing manual labor also need to take preventive steps by strengthening the body’s capacity via, for example, exercise and strength training.”
In their spare time, after a day of hard labor?
Added researcher Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen, associate professor, Department of Public Health, the University of Copenhagen:
“The WHO [World Health Organization] guide to preventing dementia and disease on the whole mentions physical activity as an important factor. But our study suggests that it must be a ‘good’ form of physical activity, which hard physical work is not.”
“Guides from the health authorities should therefore differentiate between physical activity in your spare time and physical activity at work, as there is reason to believe that the two forms of physical activity have opposite effects.”
A different study from the University of Copenhagen found that having a healthy lifestyle can cut the risk dementia in half. Here’s the takeaway: do well in school so that you can have a desk job.
Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice. Do not take action based solely on this article and always consult with an appropriate healthcare professional. This article is purely for informational purposes.