It’s no secret that exercise can help lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and help maintain a healthy weight. But new research is showing that it could also help you stave off Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
What makes exercise so beneficial for your heart and body is that it promotes and improves blood flow. Blood carries oxygen, vitamins, and other nutrients to your organs and muscles, while removing toxins, plaques, and other detrimental deposits. Blood flow also helps keep arteries and veins relaxed, making it easy for blood to pass through, which helps prevent atherosclerosis and cholesterol buildup, and ultimately reduces the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
A team from the University of Kentucky has just found that blood flow offers the same benefits when it goes up to your brain, which can prevent the buildup of plaque that plays an instrumental role in the development of dementia.
Exercise Can Help Stave Off Alzheimer’s and Other Forms of Dementia: Study
Looking at 30 men and women between the ages of 59 and 69, researchers learned that physically fit individuals had better blood flow to critical areas of the brain than those who led sedentary lifestyles.
It’s important to note that the study does not irrefutably show that a sedentary life can lead to Alzheimer’s nor that exercise is a sure-fire way to prevent it—but still, the correlation is hard to ignore. Exercise is already associated with other mental health benefits including improved mood and reduced depression, so the idea that it can go even further by protecting the brain’s physical health is by no means outlandish.
The benefits of exercise with regard to blood flow and heart health take hold very quickly. Once you start increasing your activity level, your heart adapts and you’ll see improvements in blood pressure and circulation in a matter of days, while boosting delivery as you’re performing the work, too. People can enjoy these benefits at any age and at virtually any fitness level.
Alzheimer’s and dementia are major mental illnesses that affect at least 5 million Americans, and the numbers are growing. I don’t want to say that it’s inevitable, but it’s becoming increasingly common—as many as 14 million are expected to be diagnosed by 2050. Exercise can keep the body young and help it function efficiently, which makes it a viable preventative measure. It seems that as long as the body is being put to use through activity and exercise, the effects of aging can be delayed.
And it doesn’t take much—try to carve out at least 30 minutes per day to get some exercise and give your brain a boost!