A total of 21,982 people with Alzheimer’s and 41,944 without were included in the independent sample. In a replication sample to confirm findings, 7,329 patients with Alzheimer’s disease and 252,879 people without it participated.
After reviewing the data, researchers concluded lean mass was positively associated with better cognitive performance and lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
These findings suggest that lean muscle mass might be a protective factor against cognitive decline. However, further research is needed to investigate the underlying cause of this association.
While previous research studies linked obesity with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s1, this finding stands out as another piece of the puzzle beyond clinical obesity. In the study summary, researchers present a few ideas as to why muscle mass might have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s: For one, having more muscle could help improve certain dementia risk factors like insulin resistance and blood pressure. Certain myokines (proteins that are secreted in response to muscular contractions) could also have a neuroprotective effect2, they note.
It’s important to remember that the naked eye cannot evaluate lean muscle mass—two people could look and weigh the same with completely different lean muscle mass measurements. It’s all about what’s inside.
And the good news is that while you may be born with a certain amount of lean muscle, it’s never too late to build more using muscle-centric nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise practices.