Do you have a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s? Do you know of a close friend who has a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s? If you answered yes to either one, you understand the issues these dreadful mental health conditions create for the one suffering, and everyone associated with that person’s care. One of the top worries on the minds of people in their 50’s and 60’s is will they succumb to dementia or Alzheimer’s like their loved one.
Many experiments are going on worldwide on how to prevent and treat these debilitating conditions. The pharmaceutical community knows big dollars are available for the company that comes up with the magic pill to successfully treat dementia or Alzheimer’s with minimal side effects. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and one of the simplest treatments that is finally gaining credence is exercise.
Exercise has been shown to improve:
- Executive Functions: (Voelker Rehage, C., et al, U.M., 2011; Cardiovascular and Coordination Training…, Front. Hum. Neurosci, 5, 26);
- Memory: (Stroth et al, 2009, Aerobic Endurance Exercise…, Neuropsychol. Rehabil. 19, 223-243),
- Speed of Processing: (Moul, et al, 1995. Physical Activity….., Psycho. Aging 4, 307-320)
In an article in www.sciencedaily.comScience News Daily, “Increasing evidence shows that physical activity and exercise training may delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).” These findings are from reputable research universities, not just one general practitioner doctor living alone in Antarctica.
The amazing part about the human body is that a person does not have to consciously or purposefully do anything for these effects to happen after a bout of exercise. The processes involved happen naturally whether you want it or not. Movement is natural to mammals. Sitting alone behind a computer is not a natural habit or instinct, it is learned, and can be unlearned. Doing computer games for memory is not scientifically proven to help executive function, short-term memory recall, and speed of processing information. Only elevating your heart rate through aerobic activities and complex physical movements is scientifically proven to reduce or eliminate symptoms the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
I am asked what the best types of aerobic exercises are, and the answer is the kind you like doing most. If that means multiple types like running, cycling, body pump class, and racquetball, do all of them! Each activity requires different muscle and joint combinations to be used, which also requires different neuro-cognitive networks. Again, you do not need to actively think about these networks, they naturally occur when you do various physical activities. Therefore, the first few times of a new sport or exercise movement are difficult, you do not have the neuro-cognitive network created yet to handle the sport or movement efficiently. Once you do, the joints and muscles work more in unison, and you get better each time.
And remember, a lot of physical exercise is free and can be done at home or a park. Gyms are awesome, and truly not required for the mental benefits physical activity creates. Get yourself and your older loved ones moving! Nature does the job automatically for your brain health. Even if you are predisposed to dementia or AD, exercise can help override that predisposition as the evidence shows.
For more help with complex movements, overcoming chronic pain, and coaching, email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org. As a Corrective Exercise Specialist, I can help you create a customized program that benefits you physically and mentally based on science, not Instagram or YouTube. You can also check out tips and download my free video series and report at mattpeale.com.