As you get older, you often face problems not imagined by younger people, one of those is dementia. Dementia, unlike many other ailments that are more prevalent as seniors, steals more than good health, it steals memories and the past. Whether it’s Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia or senility, there’s new research to bring hope. Some of that research focuses on how exercise can improve your mental health and reduce risk of dementia.
What does exercise do to help prevent or even reverse dementia?
Exercise does so much for your body. It can help you attain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol that can cause cognitive thinking impairment. Excess weight can increase the risk of stroke, that also causes cognitive impairment. One study found that women between 20 and 49 who had a BMI between 25 and 29, which is classified as overweight, were almost twice as likely to develop dementia later in life than people of normal weight. If the women were considered obese, a BMI of 30 or more, the likelihood increased to 2.45 times higher.
It’s never too late to start exercising.
You don’t have to start a program of exercise when you’re younger to reap the benefits. You’ll get them whether you’re middle-aged or older. Some forms of exercise are better for protecting memory, but all types are good for the brain. Studies show that people in good condition who are fit, score best on memory tests. One study followed two groups of seniors. One started walking briskly three times a day, while the other made no change. Those that walked briskly not only improved overall health, they improved on cognitive tests, too. The same was true when studying two groups of people with the e4 gene found in Alzheimer’s. The group that didn’t exercise had major atrophy of the brain compared to those that did.
What’s the best form of exercise?
First, you need all types of exercise. Strength training and balance training are important to prevent injury and perform the daily tasks of living. Balance is also important to prevent falls. Aerobic is often the easiest type of exercise to do, since walking is an aerobic exercise. However, one study found that people who did interval walking, increasing the incline for four minutes, then followed by three minutes of gentler walking in four rounds, got the most benefit from exercise both in heart and memory benefits.
- The study that showed improvement in cognitive skills from interval walking used men and women 60 or older, showing it’s never too late to start exercising.
- If you’re going to walk, instead of doing it on a treadmill, get out in the sun to increase your vitamin D. Safe sunning and boosting vitamin D levels can help reduce the risk of dementia by 122%.
- If you’re noticing signs of cognitive decline, besides exercise and weight loss, look at your diet. A healthy diet can help reduce the risk of dementia. Sometimes medications can be the culprit, too.
- When you exercise, always make sure you hydrate adequately. Seniors dehydrate faster and even mild dehydration can produce symptoms of dementia, just as bladder infections can create mental confusion.
For more information, contact us today at Prime Fitness Studio