Would you be willing to trade in Alzheimer’s disease for activity? Because new research is showing it’s quite a viable trade. And if you ask me, 30 minutes of exercise a day is far better than living with the difficulties of a deteriorating brain.
A new report prepared for the Ontario Brain Institute in Canada has shown that one in seven cases of Alzheimer’s disease in Ontario could be prevented if people got some exercise. And not a lot of exercise: only 30 minutes per day.
The results showed that people over 65 could prevent the onset of the disease by simply changing their lifestyles to adopt more activity, as opposed to being largely sedentary. What was surprising is that the 30-minute a day recommendation didn’t even have to be done all at once-it could be broken into three 10-minute intervals throughout the day! And it’s not even like we’re talking about going for a run or lifting weights that will leave you huffing and puffing and sore all over, either. Simply walking, electing to leave the car at home, or doing some other light form of exercise was enough.
Now, one in seven may not sound like a huge number at first glance, but when you take a look at the bigger picture it’s easy to see just how substantial that is. Numbers from the Alzheimer’s Association show that: more than five million Americans are living with the disease; one in eight older Americans have it; and it is the sixth leading cause of death. Exercise, then, has the potential to save more than 714,000 lives and prevent even more from getting the disease!
The lead researcher on the project was assistant professor Michael Rotondi of Toronto’s York University. He and his team reached its conclusion by looking at over 900 recent Alzheimer’s and dementia studies and articles, focusing on older adults with and without dementia.
In addition to saving lives, Rotondi also noted that these findings have the potential to save hundreds of millions of dollars in health-care costs, which translate into tens of billions of dollars in the U.S. After all, the population of the United States is roughly 10 times that of Canada.
It appears that part of the reason so many of the elderly get Alzheimer’s is that 60% of the population age 65 and up are inactive. Therefore, getting exercise should be one of the first places people look to fend off the disease. Research has also found that activity improves the condition of Alzheimer’s patients because of a mind-body connection.
Daily activity can also improve depression amongst Alzheimer’s patients, while making it easier to cope with daily tasks. Research has shown that physical activity engages the brain to create new neurons and blood vessels. Therefore, all activity, when done on a daily basis -walking to the store, gardening, doing chores, going for a stroll-has the potential to increase the size and function of the brain!
Avoiding a sedentary life and becoming active-even if it’s only for 30 minutes a day-can have a number of positive impacts on your health. By using activity to fight Alzheimer’s, you’ll be doing your mind and body a world of good!
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