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Exercise and Brain Health

Jokes about getting older or even suffering from dementia have long been the source of funny birthday card material; “The bad news is you’ve got Alzheimer’s, the good news is you can forget about it.

While dementia, and in particular Alzheimer’s disease, are decidedly unfunny to the people suffering viagra pills from them and their loved ones, losing some degree of cognitive function is a natural and unavoidable part of the aging process.

“The aging process profoundly impacts the brain in ways that can be observed on multiple levels, ranging from sub-cellularly to macro-structurally. On a diminutive scale, aging causes deterioration of neuronal and mitochondrial membranes, which leads to the loss of cellular integrity and impaired neuronal function.” (Age Related Cognitive Decline)  


While there is no way to prevent dementia or the gradual decline in cognitive function associated with aging, there are ways to slow it down.

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a brain disorder characterized by impaired cognitive functioning. It can affect learning, memory, mood and behavior. Ultimately, the disease compromises the ability to conduct daily activities and high-level functions such as the management of one’s health.  

Symptoms of Dementia

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Confusion
  • Language problems
  • Poor or impaired judgement
  • Disorientation; confusion about time or place
  • Changes in behavior and personality

What causes Dementia?

Research has concluded that dementia is a complex disease caused by interactions among many different genes together with lifestyle and environmental factors. Some of these factors include chronic depression, malnutrition, alcoholism and hypothyroidism.

Prevention of Dementia

There is no definitive way to prevent dementia, or the onset of Alzheimer’s. Intellectual and social engagement, control of vascular risk factors, healthy diet and physical activity are, however, promising strategies that have been linked with a reduction in the risk of dementia. The best evidence from various research studies suggests physical activity is one of the best ways to help mitigate dementia symptoms.

Improvements in memory and thinking abilities in older adults with and without dementia have been seen within 3 months of cardiovascular training. Strength training has also been shown to increase blood flow which results in enhanced cognitive performance.

The recommended dosage of cardiovascular activity for adults is 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week. Resistance training is recommended for 2-3 sessions per week.

Exercise has the potential to delay the onset of dementia. This would mean that a person can live longer before symptoms arise. In some cases, individuals diagnosed with dementia may pass away due to natural causes (i.e. old age) before symptoms markedly affect the activities of daily living.

The bottom line: exercise not only benefits your heart and muscles but also the most important organ in your body; your brain. Exercise is one of the best medicine’s we’ve got, so remember to stay active and realize that we have the potential to take charge of our own health.

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