A recent study published in The Lancet suggests that individuals who work physically demanding jobs may be at a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. The study, conducted by researchers from Columbia Public Health, the Norwegian National Centre of Ageing and Health, and the Butler Columbia Aging Center, found a link between occupational physical activity (PA) and cognitive impairment.
The researchers analyzed data from the HUNT4 70+ Study, which included information from 7,005 participants. They discovered that consistently working in an occupation with intermediate or high occupational PA was associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment. Occupations such as caregiving, nursing, farming, and sales were identified as particularly high-risk.
The study also highlighted the physical activity paradox, which refers to the association of leisure-time physical activity with better cognitive outcomes, while work-related physical activity can have negative effects on cognitive health. The researchers suggested that physically demanding jobs may contribute to cognitive impairment due to factors such as lack of autonomy, prolonged standing, stress, and rigid working hours.
Interestingly, the study found that high levels of recreational activity decreased the risk of dementia. This suggests that engaging in physical activity during leisure time can have protective effects on cognitive health.
The findings of this study emphasize the importance of developing strategies to prevent cognitive impairment in individuals with physically demanding occupations. Further research is needed to explore how occupational physical activity and other factors relate to the risk of dementia and mild cognitive impairment in older age.
This research provides valuable insights into the relationship between physical work demands and cognitive health. It highlights the need to prioritize brain health in physically demanding occupations and develop interventions to support cognitive well-being in these individuals.
– The Lancet
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention