A study highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle even for those over 80, regardless of genetic predisposition
L’Alzheimer, unfortunately, it still has many dark spots for modern medicine and despite the sums earmarked for research, there have been no great results at the moment. While waiting to find out how to counter this terrible evil that afflicts many in old age, it is good to follow to the letter the advice that is given to prevent this frightening monster.
The first step is therefore always stay in motion; it is good to dedicate yourself to long walks at a slow pace and in the open air, in the company of people who have the same pace and the same needs, so that it can become a moment of leisure and relaxation.
The observational study by a group of Chinese researchers, published in the journal Plos Medicine and conducted on people aged 80 and over, showed that a healthier lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment, regardless of whether that the person carries a particular form of the Apoe gene. Despite the terrifying statistics, the truth is that 90% of Alzheimer’s cases are preventable through the factors of lifestyle, and the younger we start, the better. A very powerful form of lifestyle medicine is exercise.
We often see exercise as something that primarily benefits the cardiovascular system and how we get into our jeans. Exercise is a powerful medicine for brain health. Both in the short term with daily sharpness and clarity, as well as in the long term, reducing our risks of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
In a study focusing on 600 older women, the results found that women who they walked the more they were less likely to develop cognitive decline over the 6-8 year study period (1). In another large prospective study of older women, higher levels of long-term regular exercise were strongly associated with higher levels of cognitive function and less cognitive decline. Specifically, the apparent cognitive benefits of increased physical activity were similar to being about 3 years younger and were associated with a 20% lower risk of cognitive impairment. The association was not limited to women engaged in vigorous activities: walking for the equivalent of at least 1.5 hours per week at a speed of 15-20 min / km was also associated with improved cognitive performance. In fact, research repeatedly shows us that physical exercise it is critical to optimal long-term brain health and the more sedentary our lifestyle becomes, the greater the risk of developing these devastating diseases.
But is all exercise the same?
Of course move the body will always bring gods benefits, but since we’re specifically talking about preventing brain disease and other chronic conditions, what should you do? We recommend three exercise habits that research shows are important for optimal brain health. Consistent vigorous exercise. We are finding that we need to practice a little more often and with a little more effort than originally thought. Let’s consider vigorous training consistent that fact for 20-30 minutes, 4-5 times a week. There is no need to monitor your heart rate as long as you train to the point where conversation is difficult because you are out of breath.
Constant natural movement.
Exercise should be devoted to a small window of the day. The people who experience the optimal cognitive benefits are those who incorporate exercise into their life. Whether it’s getting up from your desk to work several times a day to do the stairs or squat, or trying further exercise through maintaining an outdoor garden or participating in an active hobby. When we devote a small window of time to exercise but then fail to incorporate constant natural movement throughout the rest of the day, we negate the powerful effects of that short exercise window. The great news is that there are so many easy ways to adopt a lifestyle that keeps you moving, including parking farther away, walking to places you’re used to driving, and even getting up every hour from your desk to get busy. in a short physical activity.
The strength of the legs is related to the strength of the brain. By promoting leg strength in your exercise habits, you are affecting the largest muscle in your body. Improve leg strength improves blood flow to the brain by improving brain function. In a twin study, there was consistent and strong evidence that increased leg strength at baseline was associated with better cognitive aging over the next 10 years. Additionally, increased leg strength within twin pairs was associated with higher brain volumes and greater brain activation on functional MRI studies after 12 years.
As you can see, exercise is one of our most powerful forms of preventative care, but what about those already suffering from a chronic illness? Is it too late for this group? It’s never too late. One study showed that even among those who had early Alzheimer’s, sedentary patients had a significant decline in cognitive test scores, while active patients had an attenuation / slowdown in the decline of their cognition. Importantly, among active Alzheimer’s patients, those individuals who engaged in walking more than 2 hours per week had a significant improvement in cognitive scores.
Exercise is one of the most powerful tools we have for preventing and stopping Alzheimer’s. In research that studied physically capable older men, those who walked less than 3km per day had a 1.8 times higher risk of dementia than those who walked 3km (5). Not only is exercise a critical component for preventing cognitive decline, but it is a powerful medicine for those who are already experiencing the crippling effects of Alzheimer’s.
If you are struggling with a chronic disease or are trying to prevent it, physical exercise it should be one of the key components of your healthy lifestyle choices. There is no more powerful medicine than incorporating healthy lifestyle activities like exercise into the very structure of our life.