A combination of healthy lifestyle behaviors is tied to substantially lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, finds a new study.

Investigators from Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, reviewed data from two longitudinal study populations involving nearly 3,000 participants. They analyzed the impact of reported behaviors and found that physical activity, not smoking, light-to-moderate alcohol consumption, a high-quality diet, and cognitive activities were associated with a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

When compared to participants who followed only one or two of these behaviors, risk was found to be 37% lower in participants who followed two to three behaviors. And risk was further reduced — by 60% — in those who reported adhering to at least four healthy lifestyle factors.

“This population-based study helps paint the picture of how multiple factors are likely playing parts in Alzheimer’s disease risk,” said Dallas Anderson, Ph.D., from the National Institute on Aging, which funded the study. “It’s not a clear cause-and-effect result, but a strong finding because of the dual data sets and combination of modifiable lifestyle factors that appear to lead to risk reduction.”

The study was published in the journal Neurology.