5 Ways Exercise Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Staying active during the golden years offers many benefits for seniors. Engaging in moderately intensive activity up to 150 minutes each week lowers the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Exercise also strengthens the bones and muscles and reduces stress. However, recent research suggests staying active also boosts mental health. Here are a few ways regular exercise can slow cognitive decline and lower Alzheimer’s risk. 

1. Increases Nourishment

Engaging in regular exercise can boost cardiovascular health by strengthening the heart and encouraging blood vessel dilation. When the circulatory system functions at optimal levels, the brain receives oxygen-rich blood that is also filled with essential nutrients. Increased circulation also stimulates the release of hormones that play an important role in the growth and development of brain cells. 

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2. Enhances Plasticity

Scientists from UCLA discovered that exercise encourages new connections between the neurons in the brain, which is known as plasticity. With more connections, the brain can continue functioning despite possible damage to cells. Physical activity triggers the release of growth factors that affect many different regions of the brain, leading to enhanced memory, problem-solving skills, and other cognitive abilities. 

3. Provides Behavioral Benefits

Researchers in Stockholm found that exercise encourages the release of various chemical compounds that are instrumental in mood regulation. They describe the effect as being similar to a “runner’s high” when the body releases increased amounts of endorphins. Exercise also promotes new cell growth and development in the hippocampus. Healthy cells in this region are vital for ongoing learning and memory retention. 

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4. Preserves Brain Cells

Exercise is necessary to stimulate the production of a compound called BDNF, which protects neurons and encourages overall brain growth. Walking for 30 to 45 minutes three times a week can increase the volume of the hippocampus by two percent due to the development of new cells. The overall increase in the brain cells and neuron function can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

5. Reduces the Amount of Tau Proteins in the Brain

At the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2015, researchers presented the results of a study involving the impact of exercise on seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. The study involved 65 seniors with mild cognitive impairment, and they were divided into two groups. One group engaged in aerobic exercise four times a week while the other group merely stretched four times each week. After six months, the scientists found that the older adults who participated in more intense exercise had a significant reduction in the amount of tau proteins and increased blood flow in the brain. The participants experienced increased attention span and problem-solving skills. An abundance of the sticky tau proteins form clumps, which interfere with blood circulation and damage and kill neurons.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most serious medical conditions older adults are susceptible to. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Kingwood seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more. To hire a dedicated caregiver for your aging loved one, call Home Care Assistance at 832-412-1345 today.