The Benefits of Staying Active with Alzheimer's

Posted by Dave Tomar on May 21, 2014

The Benefits of Staying Active with Alzheimer's

Physical activity does a body good.  But did you know that it’s also great for your brain? Regular exercise can help to reduce your risk not just of physiological conditions like heart disease, stroke or diabetes but can also protect against Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, an active lifestyle does not even have to entail a traditional ‘exercise’ routine. 

The Association reports that any kind of regular physical activity helps to get blood and oxygen flowing to your brain. This encourages the growth of new brain cells and the survival of existing ones. Indeed, the Association notes, routine aerobic exercise is shown to prevent brain cell loss in the elderly. This has direct ramifications where Alzheimer’s is concerned, suggesting that a healthy daily routine that involves physical activity can help to slow or diminish the impact of such neurologically degenerative conditions. 

Take It Easy

There’s no reason to be intimidated by physical activity, even if you’ve never had a steady exercise routine before. It’s never too late to start. The Alzheimer’s Association notes that your routine can be beneficial without being too strenuous or even qualifying as exercise.

Research suggests that you can benefit significantly from low-impact and low-intensity physical activity so long as you do it with regularity. It’s not necessary to run a marathon. Just establish a routine that gets you moving, that elevates your heart rate and that gets your blood flowing. To the point, the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation notes that even activities like cooking, cleaning or taking trips to the grocery store can be beneficial.  

Exercise Your Brain

The Alzheimer’s Association also suggests finding an exercise routine that brings you mental stimulation.  Do something that you enjoy or something that requires you to employ strategy, even if that just means being a part of a Bingo club or playing cards with friends.    

In fact, your friends can also be a great source of both mental and physical stimulation. Find a friend to join you as you take on a new hobby or, if you feel that you’re up to it, a light exercise routine. You’ll find that the added support not only makes it easier to stay committed to that routine but that the company and conversation can provide you with the mental engagement you need to remain sharp. 

A recent NPR report points out that social activity in and of itself is an important part of keeping your mental faculties. Nothing like a good discussion between friends to get you thinking more clearly. 

Getting Started

The goal is to find a way of engaging in regular physical activity within your personal limitations. If you have the ability to maintain a light aerobic exercise routine or take short, daily walks, the benefits will be considerable. You can take steps today to improve your long-term neurological health just by promoting more movement and physical engagement in your everyday life. Consult your physician on your limitations but try to find little ways every single day to get up, to get out and to spend time with others. 


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