dementia

Training the Brain: Benefits of Exercise for Dementia

It is well documented that exercise is vital for keeping our bodies in good shape! Exercise is great for our heart and lung health, promotes optimal cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reduces the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and keeps our waistlines in check.  What is less talked about is how great exercise is for our brains.

Brain health is vital for reducing risk factors associated with the development of conditions such as dementia. Dementia is a degenerative brain condition that affects almost 1 in 10 Australians over the age of 65 and 3 in 10 over the age of 85. Dementia is the second leading cause of death in Australia and currently there is no known cure. Research has shown partaking in exercise programs not only reduces the risk of developing dementia but is also advantageous for those already diagnosed with dementia.

What does exercise do for our brain health?

 

  • Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and promotes growth and maintenance of brain cells.
  • Studies show exercise increases areas of the brain that diminish with dementia.
  • Exercise increases spatial memory and promotes new nerve connections in the brain.
  • Exercise promotes more years lived symptom free for those that have a predisposition to developing dementia.
  • Regular exercise reduces the risk factors associated with the development of dementia including metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity in mid life, high blood pressure and depression.

 

Three top tips for exercising and dementia:

 

  1. Involve family and friends – exercising with other people is a great way to increase adherence rates
  2. Make exercise fun – activities that are enjoyable and interesting will help with long term motivation
  3. Aim for 30 minutes – of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week combining aerobic and resistance training – current research suggest that a combination of exercise regularly is most advantageous for our brain health

 

Further information and advice on dementia can be found at Alzheimer’s Australia

For advice and information on implementing an exercise regime for those living with dementia, contact an Accredited Exercise Physiologist.