Getting outside and breathing in the fresh air might be why people living in Wagga could be at lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to recent research.
Thomas Astell-Burt and Xiaoqi Feng from the University of Wollongong used data from more 260,000 adults in New South Wales, including Wagga, who were aged 45 and over.
"My colleague Xiaoqi Feng and I, we looked at some data that was published a few years back and there were some studies that showed in other countries there was a higher prevalence of Alzheimer's and dementia compared to urban areas," he said.
"From all the studies that air pollution, lack of sleep, lack of physical activity and lack of social connections might all be related to incidents of these diseases ... we thought it might be the opposite.
"So we started to plug the numbers."
The result? Professor Astell-Burt said they found the complete opposite.
"What we found was those living in regional or remote areas of the state had a 6 per cent to 19 per cent lower risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease over 11 years, compared with their city counterparts," he said.
"There seemed to be a higher risk in urban areas."
Professor Astell-Burt said he has always been interested in promoting healthier ageing, which combined well with Associate Professor Feng's interest in early lifestyle health.
"What we both see is that the environment can be a way in which to make the environment a bit healthier for everyone, whether we are rich or poor," he said.
Professor Astell-Burt studies suggest that clean air, regular physical activity and social interactions may help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Although there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to this research, Professor Astell-Burt has one piece of advice.
"No matter what, try to make use of whatever green spaces you have around you,' he said.
"Relax in the garden or make regular visits to local parks - your older self will thank you for it."
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