We all know how important it is to stay active for our physical health; however, scientists are now discovering many more far-reaching health benefits – namely, a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and a slowed rate of cognitive decline in the elderly. The explanation for the connection between exercise and brain health is uncertain, but there are two theories under consideration:
- Physical activity prevents the forming of the plaques and tangles connected to Alzheimer’s, or
- It encourages cognitive resilience, the ability for the brain to continue to function in spite of the brain damage due to the disease.
A recent study was conducted involving nearly 500 participants from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. The older adults committed, over the course of their lives, to undergo several behavioral, cognitive, and biomedical tests, and also to donate brain, along with other tissue, after death. Those conducting the study focused in particular on the seniors’ final 2 years of life, calculating motor function, cognition, and daily physical activity.
Scientists reviewed brain tissue from the participants to identify signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, as well as other forms of brain disease and damage. Virtually across the board, at least one kind of brain damage or disease was identified; yet factoring in higher degrees of regular exercise contributed to improved cognitive function – giving support to the theory of cognitive resilience countering the effects of neurodegeneration.
Considering that the research team zeroed in on the participants’ last 2 years of life, it is unknown whether a lifetime of physical exercise had an effect on these outcomes, nor does it take into consideration the point that those with a higher amount of cognitive functioning might have equated to a naturally higher rate of physical exercise. Nonetheless, the research provides promising data to help further support the benefit of encouraging exercise all through aging.
We would love to help the older adults you love begin the brand-new year with a restored focus on increasing health and fitness levels! Our professionally trained and knowledgeable caregivers can help in many ways, such as:
- Providing transportation to the doctor’s office for a physical and approval to begin a new fitness program
- Accompanying older adults to exercise classes, swimming, walking, or working out in the gym
- Inspiring and motivating seniors to maintain increased degrees of physical activity
- Planning and preparing wholesome meals to provide seniors with the energy needed to stay active
- And much more!
Connect with Enhanced Home Care, providers of dementia care in Kansas City, at 913-327-0000 to schedule a free in-home consultation and learn how we can help make 2020 the greatest year yet for a senior loved one!