Having stronger muscles correlates to a reduced Alzheimer’s risk, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago.

Patricia A. Boyle and her colleagues discovered that the greater a person’s muscle strength the less likely he or she was to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease over a four-year period. Previous studies have connected the strength of a person’s grip to the likelihood of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Weight and physical activity have also been shown to be important factors, but this was the first study to specifically target muscle strength.

Researchers measured the strength of nine muscle groups in the arms and legs of 970 healthy men and women between the ages of 54 to 100 years old. Muscles used in breathing were also tested. After adjusting for age and education level, both of which can impact a person’s risk, researchers concluded that muscle strength strongly correlated with risk for the disease.

The strongest research subjects, those who scored in the top 10 percent, were 61 percent less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s than those who scored in the bottom 10 percent.