what if physical activity was an indicator of disease?


  • 1.2 million people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in France according to Health Insurance.
  • This neurodegenerative pathology is the most common in France and, with age, the prevalence increases: 15% of people over 80 are affected.

We often talk about physical activity to prevent dementia and other neurodegenerative pathologies… But, according to a study published in the journal Journal of Alzheimer’s Diseasethe way a person moves could provide early detection of the onset of dementia, cognitive impairment or a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Early tests

We tend to think of physical activity as a potential therapy for slowing cognitive decline, but this study reminds us that cognitive decline can in turn slow physical activity – and we may one day be able to monitor and detect these changes for earlier and more effective tests, explains Amal Wanigatunga, scientific assistant in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School and one of the authors of this study. This would delay and perhaps prevent the cognitive disorders that lead to Alzheimer’s disease.“.

10 million cases

Nearly 10 million new cases of dementia are reported each year worldwide, according to theNational Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm). This can be defined as a state of global and progressive intellectual impairment. The dementing processes include various conditions, but the most common and best known is Alzheimer’s disease. All pathologies related to dementia are generally manifested by disorders of memory, language, recognition of objects or usual gestures, behavior and judgment as well as disorientation in space and time.

No curative treatment

Early detection of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is crucial. Indeed, the earlier the pathology is identified, the faster the treatment can start and thus slow down the progression… Even if, currently, there is still no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Less physical activity

In their study, the scientists analyzed health data from nearly 600 participants. These were recorded by sensors of wearable motion tracking devices. Thus, they observed large differences between the activity level of healthy participants and those with dementia. The latter were less active during waking hours and their physical activity was more fragmented over the day than that of healthy patients.

Ultimately, the researchers therefore hope to continue their research to develop a technique for early detection of dementia, cognitive disorders (even mild) and Alzheimer’s disease… by simply analyzing the physical activity of patients.

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