Dementia is not necessarily a specific disease in itself, it is a term used to describe symptoms such as a decline in memory, cognitive function and mental ability that are severe enough to interfere with a person’s daily life. Alzheimer’s is the most common and well known cause of dementia, accounting for more than sixty percent of all cases. Second to that is vascular dementia which occurs after a stroke. Dementia is brought on by the damaging or breaking down of either the cerebral cortex (Outer layer of the brain) or somewhere deep inside the brain. Depending on which area of the brain is affected, symptoms can range from personality changes to loss of speech.
Can exercise help to prevent and slow symptoms of Dementia?
There have been many studies in recent years that show exercise can greatly reduce the risk of getting Dementia as well as slow the progression of Dementia once it has begun. One study looked at 19,458 people who were found to be generally healthy during midlife and followed up with them when they were in their 70’s and 80’s. It was found that only 1,659 of them had diagnosis of Dementia and the people who were most fit during middle age were found to be 36 percent less likely to develop Dementia later in life.
Another recent pilot study showed that functional exercise programs given to people who already have Dementia greatly improved cognitive function over patients who received Dementia medications alone and allowed for a lowered need of caregiver attention. Patients in the pilot study received 45 minutes of exercise three times per week for 18 weeks that consisted of a mix of functional exercises.
Another study showed that just 90 minutes of exercise per week greatly reduced the risk of getting Dementia by as much as 40 percent. Experts say it’s never too late to start, as the study suggests that it can help prevent mental decline even in adults aged 60 and up. The study also showed a reduction in brain skill impairment by 60 percent.
There are many things that can help prevent Dementia such as dietary choices, avoiding smoking, puzzles, continuing to challenge your mind by learning, as well as living an active lifestyle. It has been said that “When you’re green you’re growing; when you’re ripe you are dying”. This quote has much truth to it in relation to studies pertaining to Dementia prevention. The brain seems to remain healthier longer when challenged, not just mentally but physically. So stay active, challenge your mind by continuing to learn, and make healthy choices. The evidence of living a healthy lifestyle is in your favor.
Chris Smithis one of Pulse Fitness’s expert personal trainers; he has 7 years of experience in the fitness industry. He is ISSA, TRX and Perform Better certified and continues industry specific education regularly. Chris enjoys working for a gym that has positioned itself as one of the few leading training studios in the industry and where he can pursue his passion for fitness and helping people. His clients call himThe Monkeyfor his love of gymnast style exercise and how he can often be found hanging on the monkey bars.