As we age, our bodies go through changes – we become more prone to diseases and injuries, our immune systems weaken, we produce less protein, our bone density declines, and we become more prone to a variety of neurological disorders.
Among these is Dementia, which is not actually a disease unto itself. Rather, Dementia is a blanket term referring to any of a wide variety of diseases that include symptoms of memory loss and other cognitive impairment, including language and thinking skills.
In this aspect, the term Dementia is similar to the term Heart Disease – both refer to a variety of other more specific disorders and conditions. Beneath the umbrella of Dementia resides both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Besides those two more specific types, there are a bunch of different kinds of Dementia, and they all have slightly different causes and symptoms. Vascular Dementia, for example, is caused by microscopic bleeding in the brain and is the second most common cause of Dementia.
Depending on what kind of Dementia you might have, seeing a Doctor is important as certain treatment options might be available to you. The earlier you are diagnosed, the more treatable it is.
In terms of treatment, in severe cases, Alzheimer’s and its ilk are untreatable. However, if it is caught early enough, there are certain drugs out there that can provide temporary relief or slow down the tenacity of the disease – essentially giving you more time.
And while this all seems rather grim, besides the limited area of treatment possibilities, the best thing you can do is avoid an encounter with Dementia in the first place.
And while this is perhaps easier said than done, and while genetics certainly play a significant role in your propensity to face a Dementia diagnosis, there are certain plans you can employ that can lower your risk of Dementia.
If there is even a chance that this method can fight Dementia, it sounds like a worthwhile avenue to pursue, especially if you are genetically at-risk.
I’ve played this up to appear like some mythical, magical solution. The reality is not quite that glamorous, nor is it easy.
Exercise. I know what you may be thinking – it’s too late to start, there’s no point now, it’s too difficult, etc. etc. But these are all excuses – exercise helps, and it does not matter if you’ve exercised every day of your life or if you start right now.
The benefits to a lifestyle shift centered around an increase in exercise are constant and unyielding. And, luckily for you, if you adopt a new lifestyle of fitness, you will experience more benefits than a reduced risk of dementia.
Regular exercise extends the length of your life, improves the health of your heart and lungs, increases bone and muscle density, and fights off a variety of diseases and disorders – if you want to live longer and enjoy a greater quality of life, exercise is the one surefire path to success.
And it has been proven, in a variety of studies, to be the single best thing you can do to stave off dementia.
What Do I Mean By Exercise?
The word ‘exercise’ is a very general word – it’s got the same umbrella-term features as the word Dementia. And exercise means something different to everyone.
If you are a competitive athlete, exercise might mean seven to ten hours a week, involving a combination of high-intensity weight-training in addition to cardio. If you are a more casual athlete, exercise might mean four to five hours a week of weight-lifting.
But if your sole goal is to fight off Dementia, all you really need is 20-30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise. (Aerobic exercise is any form of cardio – Aerobic means ‘with oxygen’).
And while this may seem out of reach, depending on your lifestyle, it does not have to be as official as you might think. A half-hour a day of cardio does not have to equate to a thirty-minute run or thirty minutes on a bike or in the pool.
Brisk walking, gardening, even cooking or cleaning, have all been found to help fight Dementia. Of course, if you want the best results, you’ll increase consistency and intensity – but you don’t have to.
And always start slow and small. If you start with a few hours a week of a brisk walk through the woods, let that evolve organically into a slow walk/jog, and then a run/jog, and then a run, for example. Regardless of what you do, the more you do it the better off you’ll be.
Starting in the Middle
Greater than 10 separate studies have been conducted on the results on Dementia of a variety of healthful behaviors performed by middle-aged people. Many of these studies were long-term studies and followed their participants over the course of thirty-five years.
One study looked at five different healthy behaviors in 2,000 Welsh men (regular exercise, no smoking, moderate drinking, healthy body weight, and healthy diet), and concluded that of the five, exercise had the greatest impact on reducing the potential of dementia.
Those who followed all five of the behaviors experienced a 60% reduction in their odds of acquiring Dementia. And, if you combine the results from all the studies, regular exercise was found to reduce the risk of Dementia by 30%. Specifically pertaining to Alzheimer’s, regular exercise reduces the risk by 45%.
Starting Later On
Even if you haven’t exercised a day in your life, that shouldn’t stop you. More than twenty studies have been conducted on the relationship between exercise and Dementia on healthy people over the age of 60.
In nearly all of the studies, a clear link was established between more exercise and better cognitive performance. Regular exercise for at least one year actually increased the size of the hippocampus, which is the brain’s memory center – basically, more exercise results in a lower chance of Dementia.
Even though it might be tough to get started, you should be motivated to work out, because the results speak for themselves. If you exercise, not only will you feel better and stronger, and not only will you have a healthier heart, you will have a healthier mind. Worst case scenario, you stave off Dementia for as long as possible. Best case, you avoid it completely.
This post was written by Daniel Moss from DumbBellReviews.com –