By: Sherry Netherland, Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services
AEROBIC ACTIVITY SUCH AS WALKING, RUNNING, SWIMMING, BICYCLE RIDING
In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men in the 71-93 year old age group who walked less than a quarter-mile per day were almost two times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease or other form of dementia than men who walked more than two miles daily.
In another study, also published in JAMA, female nurses, aged 70-81 years who walked 1.5 hours per week, at a leisurely pace, performed better than their less active peers on tests of mental function.
Sustained aerobic activity will increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Individuals will perform better on tasks that require executive function such as planning and task organization. In a study published in October 2005 by the Karolinska Institute, it was revealed that seniors, aged 65 – 79 who engaged in robust physical activity, at least twice a week since youth or middle age had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia and a 60% lower risk of manifesting Alzheimer’s than their sedentary peers.
Individuals who combine weight lifting with aerobic activity will experience the highest yields on tests of cognitive function.
ANY LEISURE-TIME ACTIVITY
Individuals who regularly engage in any leisure time physical activity, such as gardening or sports, demonstrated improved cognitive function and less cognitive decline.
The brain responds well to unique stimuli. Mental aerobics can delay the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias. Keeping the brain active by introducing novel stimuli increases blood flow and activates neurons, maybe even protecting them from damage by increasing the production of brain chemicals called neurotrophins.
Other examples of mental stimulation:
Learn something new.
Try changing long established routines.
Read the paper.
Do puzzles, card games, etc.
SOCIALIZE AND STAY INVOLVED
An isolated, sedentary lifestyle can contribute to mental decline. Engaging in regular conversation and interaction with others is stimulating to the brain. Community activism is a great way to promote mental aerobics.
PRACTICE GOOD NUTRITION
Food fuels the brain as well as the body.
Sherry Netherland is the Director of Special Projects for Assisted Healthcare Services, a Medicare certified, CHAP accredited home health agency with 7 branches in California and Arizona. She founded the Assisted Speakers Bureau and she speaks on a variety of healthcare related issues. To learn more about home health care and how Assisted can help, Home Health.