Exercise May Protect the Brain From Alzheimer's

A most recent study by a group of researchers found that regular exercise could help prevent Alzheimer's.  According to Dr. Nathan Johnson, the leader of the University of Kentucky research study team, said people who exercise frequently often have reduced arterial stiffness, a condition that comes with aging.  It shows being physically active improves blood flow to the brain and helps protect it from dementia and Alzheimer's especially for those who have inactive lifestyles.


According to the UK study, the Kentucky researchers put 30 men ages 30-59 through a treadmill fitness assessment including ultrasounds of the heart.  Additionally, they received brain scans that displayed blood flow to certain key areas of the brain.  The results showed blood flow to critical areas of the brain exhibiting the oxygen and nutrients were higher in those who were more physically fit.  Dr. Johnson points out that this study shows exercise at any age helps keep the mind young.

The Journal of International Neuropsychological Society's study highlights a similar pattern suggesting exercise can build up a portion of the brain that typically withers with the Alzheimer's disease.  Additionally, researchers from The University of Maryland School of Public Health put older adults on a moderately intense exercise program that found the outer layer of the brain increased, possibly lending protection against dementia.

The question was raised about how much exercise was needed and in a study from the Journal on Alzheimer's Research where researcher's found that 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can improve the memory performance after 12 weeks.  Many of those living with Alzheimer's are predisposed to the disease, but one third of the cases can be attributed to risk factors like smoking, diabetes, obesity and inactivity.  According to the Alzheimer's Association, exercise keeps the blood flowing and boosts oxygen consumption, both helping your brain operate more efficiently and function better.  By participating in routine exercise, it will assist in reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes, all of which contribute to Alzheimer's on their own.

In the United States, we invest a lot of time understanding and treating Alzheimer's, but according to Jin-Tai Yu, MD, PhD, of the University of California–San Francisco's Memory and Aging Center and department of neurology, very little on preventing it.

The Alzheimer's Association's website shows that regular workout may be beneficial to lowering the risk of Alzheimer's and by having a medically approved program is a valuable component of wellness. In addition to the exercise, the Association recommends a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help protect the brain.  Even though the studies show Alzheimer's will triple to more than 100 million by 2050, the good news points out that if we are proactive about exercise and strive to have a healthy diet, we can lower our risk. 


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