Dementia and cognition or memory associated disorders in old age are becoming more prevalent. Most of us know of, or have a loved one that has suffered from some type of dementia, Alzheimers being more common. In fact health costs related to dementia were 220 billion in 2015. Old age and dementia seem to go hand in hand, and to some it seems inevitable. But what if that were not the case.
Studies show that regular exercise can prevent or reduce severity of dementia related symptoms in older adults. For example, it has been shown that exercise improves connectivity of frontal and temporal lobe, which relates to better cognition, language comprehension, and visual memory. Exercise also improved mood and decreased brain over- excitation in people with psychiatric disorders who practiced yoga or walked 3x a week. Exercise can also reduce inflammation of the brain and improve blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients required for normal/healthy brain function.
So all of the above sounds great! Do you have to workout 3 hours a day to get it. Thankfully, the answer is no. The recommended amount of exercise to improve brain function and prevent cognitive decline is 30 min of moderate exercise (a brisk walk) 3x a week or, light exercise (leisurely stroll) 30 minutes 5x a week.
Precautions for initiating an exercise program are if you have consistent pain with exercise, having medical conditions that may need to be monitored with exercise (such as COPD or cardiovascular disease), or you fell unsure/unsafe initiating a program. If any of the previous precautions refer to you, consult your physician or a trusted physical therapist before starting a program.