New research links physical weakness to cognitive decline

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As muscle strength decreases, chances of developing Alzheimer's disease increase, according to recently published research.

In a Rush University Medical Center study, 970 adults with an average age of 80 engaged in a series of strength and cognition tests. The subjects' strength was rated in units, and ranged from -1.6 to 3.3. For each one-unit increase in strength measured at the beginning of the study, researchers found a corresponding 43% decrease in the likelihood of that subject developing Alzheimer's over the course of the roughly 3.6 year follow-up period. The strongest 10% were 61% less likely to develop Alzheimer's than the weakest 10%, according to the report. 

Researchers say they are unsure exactly what causes the link between loss of physical strength and cognitive decline. The report appears in the November issue of the journal Archives of Neurology.