May 4, 2009 -- Question: How do things such as mental stimulation, socialization and physical activity affect risk of developing Alzheimer's disease?
Answer: We have some studies that have suggested that mental stimulation and socialization may have benefit in Alzheimer's disease. We know that these things improve quality of life and they may Health/AlzheimersQuestions/story?id=7389989 target="_blank" and everyday activities. But we're not convinced that they actually delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.
Physical activity is another thing that's been studied and we know that physical activity can also improve thinking in elderly people, but again, we don't know if it delays Alzheimer's disease. We've seen some studies in which we know that in animals physical activity can actually reduce the load of plaques in the brains of these animals -- which we think might be responsible for Alzheimer's disease.
And that's certainly a possible indication but we don't have confidence yet about this.