Hard manual labor – building buildings, house repairs, plowing fields, factory work – can lead to stronger muscles and good physique. But it can also lead to joint and muscle pain. Even more worrying, manual labor can increase the risk of developing dementia later in life.
A new study from the University of Copenhagen suggested that hard physical work could be linked to dementia – a loss of memory and thinking skills, most of which are related to age. The researchers looked at what work-related physical activity can do for the brain. They started with data from the Copenhagen Male Study from 1970 and 1971, in which 4,721 male workers aged 40 to 59 reported on their own daily work.
The researchers then followed them from age 60 through 2016 and compiled health data, including the development of dementia. They differentiated between physical leisure activity and long-term professional physical activity. They took into account factors such as age, socio-economic status, marital status and psychological stress.
The study identified 697 cases of dementia among all participants. They found that men who did long-term hard physical work had a 55% higher risk of dementia than men who did sedentary jobs.
On the other hand, the study also found that men who did more physical activity in their free time had lower rates of dementia than men who did more sedentary free time – the difference between going to the gym every day and watching TV from the couch.
“Before the study, we assumed that hard physical work was associated with a higher risk of dementia. Other studies have tried to prove this, but ours is the first to convincingly combine the two,” said lead author Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen , PhD, in a press release.
Dr. Nabe-Nielsen added that older studies showed a likely negative effect of hard physical work on blood flow. This can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
The study had several limitations, including its sole focus on Denmark, the lack of female participants, and the use of self-reported data. More research would be needed to learn more about the link between hard physical work and the risk of dementia, especially in people who work at a young age.
Positive physical activity
Regarding positive physical activity, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week to improve overall health and reduce the risk of many diseases.
If you are between 18 and 64 years old, do a few exercises per week for 2.5 hours: //www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htmes or other activities like dancing, gardening, hiking, and swimming . You can divide these 2.5 hours into different activities. For example, you can garden for 20 minutes in the morning and dance for 15 minutes in the afternoon.
When you feel brave, try more intense activities. However, the recommended total minute per week is 75. If you have a chronic health condition, ask your doctor what exercise routine you are allowed to perform. Do not start a routine without your doctor’s advice.
For children under 18, ask a pediatrician about activities that can promote physical and mental development.
Remember that chores are considered a physical activity. So if housework is limiting your schedule, monitor how many minutes you have spent on it. And ask your doctor what household chores are beneficial for your body.
Engage the brain
The brain can benefit from physical activity. An article by the US National Institute on Aging suggests activities that keep the mind busy. As you pursue a new hobby or volunteer, you may feel happier and healthier. A study examined this angle. The researchers found that older adults who focused on quilting or digital photography an average of 16 hours a week for three months had better memory and thinking skills than those who just socialized and did less mentally strenuous tasks.
The bottom line is that moving more is better than less, and learning new things helps your brain stay active.