Doctors could soon be prescribing gardening to prevent Alzheimer’s disease if scientists have their way: a study carried out in the USA has found that regular gentle exercise, such as gardening, boosts brain volume in older people and cuts the risk of dementia by 50%.
The team studied 876 people over the age of 65 for five years and discovered increasing physical activity led to larger brain volumes, mainly in areas associated with memory and recognition.
The study noted that doctors may soon be prescribing lifestyle changes such as gardening to people with Alzheimer’s. Around 850,000 people living with dementia and 46.8 million people with Alzheimer’s, with the figure set to double every 20 years.
‘Rather than wait for memory loss, we might consider putting the patient on an exercise program,’ said team leader Dr Cyrus Raji. ‘We have no magic bullet cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Our focus needs to be on prevention.’
The study is the latest backing evidence that gardening may be better for some patients than medication. UK studies have already proved it helps with conditions including stress, depression, obesity and high blood pressure, and some GPs are already advising patients to get growing to improve their health.