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This One Activity Will Cut Alzheimers
Can one simple activity reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer's disease? Read on to see how exercising can improve memory and heal brain degeneration.
Did you know that one simple health change can reduce your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease or another degenerative cognitive disease by up to 60 percent? This small change is completely free, and requires minimal effort. If there was a way to protect your memory easily and painlessly, wouldn’t you want to try it?
Luckily, you can. Studies have shown that regular moderate exercise can lead to a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk by up to 60 percent, and can even reverse existing brain deterioration.
Alzheimer's is currently the number one cognitive degenerative disease in the world today. According to Web MD, Alzheimer’s affects about 1 in 10 people over the age of 65. Currently, around 4.5 million Americans have some form of the disease.
Over the last several decades, much research has been conducted surrounding this frightening and prevalent disease. While there are many potential factors for a person’s risk of getting Alzheimer’s: including genetics, lack of brain use, environmental toxins, head trauma, and Down’s Syndrome, there is no one identifiable cause or risk factor for the disease. Currently, there is no test to determine a person’s risk for the disease, although recent research has indicated that early signs of loss of smell may lead to earlier diagnosis of the disease. Researchers from the University of Florida came up with a simple peanut butter test for identifying early stages of the disease in late 2013.
Although there are few studies that can predict if you will get the disease, there are plenty of studies backing evidence that you can significantly lower your risk by keeping the brain active. Many studies have shown a link between exercise and a reduction in Alzheimer’s risk. In fact, frequent exercise may be the best way to ensure you never have to worry about memory loss problems.
Can you really slow cognitive generation with exercise? Many years of research has proven that you can. In 1999, scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla conducted a study on mice. When mice were given access to running wheels, they showed greater cell growth in the area of the brain that controls memory creation. These mice performed better on memory tests than sedentary mice.
A similar study conducted by the Psychobiology and Exercise Research Center in Brazil from 2012 showed linked results. In this study, the researchers assigned two types of exercise for two groups of mice. One group engaged in weight-lifting activities, while others engaged in cardio activities. After 6 weeks, all exercising mice showed improved cognitive function. However, the study also found surprising results based on the kind of exercise that the mice did. Running mice had an increased level of BDNF protein, which helps create new brain cells. The weight lifting mice showed increased levels of insulin-like growth factor, which helps cell growth and keeps fragile new neurons alive. This study indicates that the brain benefits from both strength and cardio training.
Clearly exercise is beneficial for the brain and is able to keep healthy people’s memory functioning effectively and efficiently. But do studies show that exercise can actually repair degenerative brain tissue and improve memory after deterioration? According to these studies, it can.
A study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Public Health and published in the 2013 Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, showed that exercise can reverse some degenerative brain effects. The study was led by Dr. J. Carson Smith, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology. The study indicated that exercise intervention for adults with an average age of 78 can improve memory recall and brain function measured by functional neuroimaging.
The study studied previously inactive seniors for a period of 12 weeks. The participants were placed on an exercise program with mild intensity for 150 minutes per week. Half of the participants were diagnosed with mild cognitive decline, while the others had normal cognitive function. Before and after the exercise program participants were given a face recognition test of famous celebrities. After the 12 week exercise program, all participants showed a reduction in brain activity when recalling names. This indicates that exercise makes it possible for the brain to recall information with less effort.
A 2012 study published in the American Heart Association journal “Stroke,” indicated that healthy adults engaging in regular exercise decrease their risk of facing dementia by 40 percent and improve their cognitive function by 60 percent. This study researched 639 people of various ages, genders, and genetic backgrounds for a period of 3 years. 64 percent of the participants were active 30 minutes a day at least 3 times a week. Results from this study showed that exercise can indeed improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.
A 2010 study from the University of Pittsburgh studied 120 inactive adults over the age of 65. Some adults reported mild memory lapses, while others were cognitively healthy. Each person was assigned a yearlong exercise program with either a toning routine or a moderate-intensity walking program. After one year, the walking group showed increase in the brain region that processes memory, as well as improved memory overall.
Another study conducted by the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 2012, studied women ages 70 to 80 diagnosed with minor cognitive impairment (MCI). The women were broken into three groups and assigned an exercise type- either strength training, aerobic training, or balance and tone training. Participants exercised 2 times a week over 6 months. At the end of the study, women who were involved with strength training showed the most improvement. They have improved memory function and conflict resolution. The aerobic group improved in memory function only.
So if exercise can help the elderly and mice improve their memories, it should also work on other levels. Clearly, there is a link between cognitive function and exercise, and studies show that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive degenerative disorders. A 2012 study from The Mayo Clinic showed that while exercise can improve cognitive function in the elderly by 32 percent, starting a similar exercise program by middle age can improve cognitive function by 39 percent. This indicates that exercise throughout life is key to reducing the chances of getting Alzheimer’s.
Exercise helps your brain in multiple ways. According to The Mayo Clinic, exercise can help your brain in the following ways:
Exercise is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to preserve brain health outside of diet. The medical industry has long touted the healthy benefits of exercising and eating right, but few people follow the recommendations to their detriment. Lack of exercise can lead to many other health issues including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Results from the above studies show that all exercise has benefit to the brain. However, there are certain exercises that show more benefit than others. In the above studies, participants who showed the biggest brain improvement engaged in moderate exercise (such as walking briskly or completing a strength routine) at least 3 times a week. Their exercise totals equaled 150 minutes per week or more.
Strength exercises showed greater brain-boosting power than aerobic exercises. When engaging in strength exercises, participants saw increased memory power and an increase in hippocampus size. All brain functions were improved as a result of strength training. However, a combination of strength and aerobic exercises are best for maintaining overall health.
What exercises you do can vary, but you do not have to push yourself to the limit to achieve these brain-boosting results. None of the participants in the study exercised beyond their ability to speak during the exercises.
One of the biggest problems that many Americans face is the fact that exercise is difficult to work into the day. Committing to an exercise routine at the same time each day can help you stick to your exercise goals. Other individuals find that switching between types of exercise keeps things interesting enough to continue. Exercising outside may have additional benefits, as you are exposed to beneficial vitamin D and sunlight, which can boost serotonin levels in the body, fighting depression and low moods.
If you find that you are too tired or lack enough energy to exercise, adding a few extra vitamins or supplements in your diet may help you feel good enough to exercise. Try adding the following vitamins and supplements to your diet to keep you feeling good enough to exercise.
If you are serious about keeping your mind healthy and functioning properly, there are a few additional steps you can take to improve cognitive function. One simple step is to take to heart the “use it or lose it” mentality.
Everyone knows that the key to health is diet and exercise, but fewer people realize just how important the link actually is. Results from these studies and many others showcase just how important an active lifestyle is for maintaining efficient mental health. The key to maintaining restorative brain power is to start as early as possible to protect your brain health. The longer you live a sedentary life, the faster the brain degenerates and leads to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive diseases. With regular exercise and brain-boosting foods and supplements, you can stave off early brain degeneration and even rebuild brain tissue lost from previous bad brain habits. This is encouraging news for individuals in every stage of health.
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