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Reduce Dementia Risk with Physical Activity

Jan 18, 2024 | Featured, Health & Wellness | 0 comments

Many believe there’s nothing you can do to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but this is a common myth. While there’s no sure-fire way to 100% avoid developing the disease, there are lifestyle choices that can decrease your risk. One of the best (and most researched) ways to reduce dementia risk is with regular physical activity.

The Research

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, regular exercise can reduce dementia risk by around 28%, and for Alzheimer’s disease specifically, by 45%. A study of seniors’ daily activity revealed those who exercised the least (the bottom 10%) were more than twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who exercised the most (the top 10%).

Further, it appears that even light physical activity can reduce dementia risk. According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, a study of more than 62,000 seniors (65+) revealed that those who participated in any regular physical activity at all – even if below the recommended daily amount – had a lower risk of developing dementia. The study revealed that, essentially, the more a person exercised, the less likely they were to develop dementia.

Recommended Physical Activity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults aged 65 and older get:

  • At least 150 minutes a week (30 minutes a day, five days a week) of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity, such as hiking, jogging, or running (as able).
  • At least two days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
  • Plus, incorporating activities to improve balance regularly.

Remember, this is just a recommendation – every person is different. Your physical capabilities may not match up with the ideal exercise schedule. Talk to your doctor about what exercise routine is right for you.

Brain-Healthy Exercises

While all physical activity is welcome, a few exercises offer unique benefits for your brain health.

  1. Aerobic exercise – like walking, jogging, swimming, hiking, and biking boosts blood flow to your brain. It also helps support your hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
  2. Strength training – such as weight lifting, push-ups, lunges, and squats is proven to decrease cognitive decline and slow degeneration.
  3. Yoga – it’s not only good for relaxation and stress relief but can have actual brain health benefits, too! According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, during yoga, your brain cells develop new connections that modify brain function, resulting in improved cognitive skills like learning, memory, awareness, thought, and language.
  4. Tai chi – studies show that tai chi can improve the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions in people with no cognitive decline, and slow the progression of dementia and improve cognitive function in those with mild cognitive impairment.
  5. Dancing – it’s not only fun but also beneficial! Studies show that dancing – which involves both a mental effort and social interaction – lowered participants’ risk of dementia. It can also improve mood and cognitive skills like visual recognition and decision-making.

How Grand Oaks Can Help

At Grand Oaks Senior Living, we offer a range of physical activities to meet your exercise goals, including tai chi, aquatic exercise, ballroom dancing, yoga, walking club, range-of-motion classes, and more. Discover how you can age well with Grand Oaks – schedule a tour today!

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