Exercise has many benefits, including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, increasing bone and muscle strength, and decreasing stress.
Regular physical activity also benefits the brain. Studies show that people who are physically active are less likely to experience a decline in their mental function, have a lowered risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, and possibly have improved thinking ability among people with vascular cognitive impairment.
Exercising several times a week for 30 to 60 minutes may:
Boost Decision Making: Regular exercise keeps thinking, reasoning, attention span, and learning skills sharp for healthy individuals.
Lower Negative Effects: Lowering stress though exercise also helps to lower brain
damaging behaviors and control damage to neural connections. This helps to lessen negative thoughts and depression.
Improve Memory: Exercise boosts reasoning, judgment and thinking skills (cognitive function) for people with mild Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment.
Increase Production of Neurochemicals: Physical activity seems to help the brain not only by keeping the blood flowing but also by increasing chemicals that protect the brain. Physical activity also tends to counter some of the natural reduction in brain connections that occur
Prompts Growth of New Nerve Cells and Blood Vessels: Exercise activates
neurotransmitters and bolsters blood flow in the body. This allows for more cerebral blood flow which helps with mental focus and can help delay the onset of Alzheimer's for people at risk of developing the disease or slow the progress of the disease. Exercise promotes angiogenesis, vascularization, and most importantly neurogenisis.
More research is needed to know to what degree adding physical activity improves memory or slows the progression of cognitive decline. Nonetheless, it is clear that regular exercise is important to stay physically and mentally fit.
In my next blog I’ll discuss the importance of diet and nutrition in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.