A lifetime of hard physical work has been linked to a 55% higher risk of developing dementia by a team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen.
People doing hard physical work have a 55-per cent higher risk of developing dementia than those doing sedentary work. And these figures were adjusted for lifestyle factors and lifetime, among other things, so poorer diets amongst building site workers were ruled out.
In a puzzling turn of events it seems that the usual mantra of ‘Do exercise to reduce your risk of dementia’ may not mecessarily be true after all.
Having previously shown that a healthy lifestyle cuts the risk of dementia in half, The University of Copenhagen researchers not tell us not to work too hard.
The form of physical activity is vital, claims associate professor Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen from the Department of Public Health at the University of Copenhagen. “For example, the WHO 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“.
Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist said, “Maybe digging holes in the road in mind-numbingly boring so your brain switches off. Maybe the fry up for breakfast is part of it. Did they correct for that. Or the beers after working a day in the sun?
We know that changes in the brain begin long before the person leaves the labour market.
Indeed, having claimed to correct for variables, the researchers then suggest that factors other than exercise are indeed important, and I quote, “People with a shorter education often struggle with overweight, pain and poor physical fitness.
Hard physical work may have a negative effect on the heart blood circulation and thus also on the blood supply to the brain. This may for example lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, blood clots in the heart, heart cramps and heart failure’.
So maybe it’s not the hard physical work per se, but the chip butties, the heavy lifting and the heart strain.”
- Kirsten Nabe‐Nielsen, Andreas Holtermann, Finn Gyntelberg, Anne Helene Garde, Sabrina Islamoska, Eva Prescott, Peter Schnohr, Åse Marie Hansen. The effect of occupational physical activity on dementia: Results from the Copenhagen Male Study. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 2020;DOI: 10.1111/sms.13846