Are you at risk for Alzheimer’s or already showing early warning signs? With effort, you can resist a predisposition from genetics, disease or environment and improve your chances of a longer, healthier life. Research on Alzheimer’s has identified a number of factors intimately linked with your likelihood of developing symptoms — and at the forefront of these factors is healthy living (or a lack thereof).
Alzheimer’s is linked to a number of different genes, but not every gene associated with the disease guarantees problems; instead, over 95% of these potential trigger genes is influenced by other aspects of your health. If you get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise at the fitness center each week, you have a good chance of staying symptom-free with most of these genes.
Why does this work? It has to do with the mechanisms which cause Alzheimer’s. The disease can be tracked to a number of different sources of brain damage; oxidative damage to brain cells, blood clots, inflammation, etc. All of which is combated, in your brain and the rest of your body, by regular exercise. By maintaining healthy blood flow and encouraging your body to release hormones which control and combat these elements, you can keep your brain healthy longer — along with the rest of your body.
Exercise is also beneficial to your liver, which plays a critical role in protecting you against various sources of dementia by producing brain-cell-protecting plasmalogens.
Some form of low-impact cardio is probably the best way to get started on a healthy lifestyle. You can minimize your risk of injury, can train with minimal assistance at any fitness center, and can increase intensity at your own pace. Good forms of low-impact cardio include speed-walking, running (not jogging), training on an elliptical, and swimming.
Few approaches to fitness will get you healthier faster than lifting heavy things. As a bonus, studies show that regular strength training can keep your body younger for longer — your body doesn’t have to get weaker with age; it simply does so if there’s no incentive to maintain muscle mass. Lifting weights gives it that incentive, and drastically alters the effect of aging on physical strength.
Anything that gets you moving AND thinking is doubly beneficial in combating Alzheimer’s, so it’s strongly recommended that you implement some form of group exercise into your lifestyle. Playing team sports every week, taking a spin or cycling class at your local fitness center, etc.
Healthy minds live in healthy bodies. You don't have to transform your entire life into strength training, jogging and playing sports, but once or twice a week, try to do some of these activities. Your brain (and the rest of your body) will thank you.