Don't Forget to Exercise

by Garreth Myers


Most of us have a fair idea of how important it is to exercise every day. When discussing the various health benefits of exercising, we usually talk about weight loss, improved immunity, increased strength, better heart health, and so on. But did you know that exercising can also help avert mental conditions like Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which leads to loss of intellectual and social skills. This condition causes the brain cells to degenerate and die, causing memory loss and a significant decline in mental function.

Researches on the effects of exercising on Alzheimer’s

According to a recent study conducted by a group of researchers in Chicago, physical activity can help avert Alzheimer’s to some extent. Dr. Raj Shah of Rush University Medical Center claims that you can reduce your risks of Alzheimer’s by engaging in regular physical activity.

In a study posted on the AARP Bulletin, scientists observed that a history of exercise appears to fend off brain damage in those who carry a gene that is linked to increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The study included 163 adults between the ages of 45 and 88, who showed no signs of dementia. These participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their physical activities and exercise routines for the last 10 years. After that, the participants were put through an imaging test known as the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) brain scan.

Lead author of the study and associate professor of Psychology, at Washington University, St. Louis, Denise Head states that those who had the risk gene, but exercised regularly, had protein levels similar to those without the risk-gene whereas the participants who had not exercised at all, showed higher deposits of amyloid.

Randolph Tanzi, the director of Genetics and Ageing Research Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital says that while exercising, the brain turns on enzymes that breakdown amyloids. He also states that so far, exercising has seemed to be the most effective way of preventing Alzheimer’s.

So, don’t forget to exercise, particularly if you’re a science geek or history buff, cause there’s little more precious than the information stored in your brain. There are other studies too that provide similar information on exercising and Alzheimer’s. The good news is that you do not really need to engage in any strenuous routine to prevent Alzheimer’s; simple activities could also do the trick. Some daily activities that are good for your brain include:

  • Cooking
  • Dusting
  • Vacuuming, sweeping or mopping
  • Cleaning the house
  • Gardening
  • Painting

Of course, if you start exercising regularly in addition to performing these household chores, your overall brain health is bound to improve. What is important is for you to maintain a fair level of physical activity in your daily life.

References: 
  1. Middleton LE, et al. Promising strategies for prevention of dementia. Archives of Neurology. 2009;66:1210.
  2. Preventing Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline. National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference Statement. April 26-28, 2010. http://consensus.nih.gov/2010/docs/alz/ALZ_Final_Statement.pdf. Accessed Oct. 28, 2010

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