can exercise help prevent alzheimer’s?
June 7, 2021
Recent studies suggest that exercise may lower your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments. The evidence is so substantial that physical activity is widely accepted as a modifiable risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
How Exercise Helps Your BrainPhysical activity improves the blood flow through your body, particularly to your brain. A strong supply of oxygen-rich blood helps your brain function at its best and build connections or synapses. That’s particularly important for the hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for making and storing memories. Regular exercise also:
- Lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes that affect your circulation
- Improves cell walls to promote better nutrient exchange cells
- Supports the growth of brain tissue
- Releases dopamine and serotonin, which lower your risk for depression and anxiety
- Engages reasoning and judgment skills
- Improves cognition
Exercise and Fall RisksNeck and head trauma have been linked to an increased risk for cognitive decline. Improving your endurance and muscle strength can lower your risk for balance-induced falls, which may result in head injuries. Daily exercise, especially strength training, can improve your flexibility, balance and endurance.
Exercises to Boost Brain HealthExperts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or about 20 minutes a day. It’s important to combine strengthening exercises with cardio. Talk to your doctor about an appropriate amount of exercise based on your weight and mobility before beginning a new workout routine. Also, ask about physical therapy and other exercise services to suit your needs. Here are some at-home exercises that will support cardiovascular health and brain function: Cardio exercises:
- Riding on a bicycle or recumbent bike
- Yoga or chair yoga
- Resistance training
- Climbing stairs
- Wall pushups