Although exercise cannot completely eliminate the danger of developing Alzheimer's disease, it has been shown in a recent study to reduce that risk by 50%.
Researchers suggest regular exercise can help keep your mind sharp and reduce your risk of developing dementia.
Over the past decade, researchers have uncovered the significant link between physical activity and cognitive function. Exercise not only improves cognitive ability, prevents brain atrophy, and stimulates the production of new neurons, but it also helps keep muscles strong, blood vessels flexible, and stress levels low.
Recommendations about exercise and brain health have been provided by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), an independent collaborative of scientists, clinicians, researchers, and policy experts formed by AARP to give the best thinking on brain health for older adults.
- Take part in 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week at a moderate level.
- Strength training should be performed at least twice weekly. There is evidence that lifting weights improves brain health by increasing blood flow to the area.
- Engage in regular physical activity.
- It can be helpful to exercise with others so that you have someone to push you when you need it.
Physically active persons "had lower risks of Alzheimer's and other age-associated neurodegenerative illnesses," says Arthur F. Kramer, senior vice provost for research and graduate education at Northeastern University in Boston and a specialist on exercise and the brain.
one with a larger and more youthful brain
The memory-critical hippocampus shrinks with age, increasing the risk of memory loss and dementia. When inactive men and women aged 50 to 80 walked around a track for 40 minutes, three times a week, for six months, their hippocampi grew in size, according to research by Kramer and colleagues. The hippocampi of the control group that did not walk shrank in comparison to the beginning of the study.
One further study indicated that people who exercised moderately or vigorously for five years (such as by running, hiking, swimming, or dancing) had memory and other cognitive abilities comparable to those of people ten years younger.
These findings provide credence to the hypothesis that cardiovascular and mental wellbeing are intertwined. Regular exercise reduces the risk of hypertension and arterial stiffness, and maintaining healthy blood vessels maintains sufficient blood supply to the brain.
Marilyn Albert, director of the division of cognitive neuroscience at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, says that aerobic exercise increases levels of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps repair and protect the brain.
Another study indicated that those who exercised moderately or intensively for five years (jogging, hiking, swimming, dancing) had memory and other cognitive abilities comparable to those of people ten years younger than themselves (average age 71).
These findings provide credence to the hypothesis that cardiovascular and mental wellbeing are intertwined. High blood pressure and arterial stiffness can be avoided with regular exercise, and maintaining healthy blood vessels is essential for ensuring adequate blood supply to the brain.
Moreover, aerobic exercise generates increased amounts of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which aids in brain repair and protection, as explained by Marilyn Albert, director of the division of cognitive neuroscience at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Cognitive Function and Alzheimer's Disease
According to Teresa Liu-Ambrose, director of the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, strength training appears to aid by sending pulses of blood to your brain. She conducted research that demonstrated a 15% increase in cognitive performance among women who engaged in moderate strength training at least once per week.
What does this suggest for people who are worried about getting Alzheimer's disease, then? Active older adults have a 50% lower risk of developing the condition, according to a recent UCLA research of 876 men and women aged 65 and over. Still, Kaycee Sink, chief of the Memory Assessment Clinic at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., encourages exercise "as part of a full healthy lifestyle." She claims that "it doesn't matter if it was the exercise or the food or the full package" as long as the end result is a healthy brain.