Thanks to modern medicine, we’re living longer than ever before. But we don’t want to simply exist well into old age, we want to sail into senior status sound of body and mind. Read on to see how getting off the couch and on your feet might help you stay mentally sharp through your golden years.
In How Exercise and Other Activities Beat Back Dementia, NPR reports that more than half of all 85-year-olds suffer from some form of dementia. According to Alz.org, dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. It can occur as a result of various diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, or simply as a result of aging.
As of now, there’s no cure for dementia, but certain cognition-enhancing drugs may diminish the symptoms. These drugs work to lower blood pressure, improve mood, or improve nerve-cell communication in the brain, which can significantly improve quality of life. However, these drugs do not treat dementia’s underlying causes or delay its progression.
Get moving for brain health
Here’s the good news: Regular aerobic exercise can be very effecting at preventing or even reversing dementia. Here’s how:
1. Moderate aerobic exercise, such as walking, can increase the brain volume in older adults.
2. Just one hour a week of high-intensity exercise can cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by half.
3. Those who don’t engage in 60 minutes of high-intensity or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week are 82% more likely to develop dementia.
4. In patients already experiencing dementia, exercise can improve heart and vascular health, reduce the risk of stroke, improve sleep and mood, improve memory, and slow mental decline.
Engaging in regular exercise is an excellent way of keeping mental faculties intact, and people are most likely to stick to an exercise routine if they enjoy the activity. If you’re a gym rat, jump on the treadmill or join a Zumba class. If you’re the outdoorsy type, get your blood pumping with vigorous city walks or hikes through the countryside. Even if you can’t leave home, you can still reap the benefits of cardio by blasting music and dancing in your living room.
And when’s the best time to start? Now. Whether you’re 25 or 75, when it comes to supporting the body and brain long-term, the benefits of exercise are clear.