Lessen Dementia Risk With Aerobics

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It was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings that aerobics exercise plays a great role in preserving cognitive abilities and can be considered an essential therapy to prevent dementia. Aerobics is form of physical activity that increases heart rate and need for oxygenation. Aerobics is said to be helpful in prevention of this condition; similarly it also helps slow down the progression of the disease once it has already begun. Dementia is a progressive deterioration of one’s cognitive abilities and is considered a main sign or symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

According to the Minnesota based researchers in Mayo Clinic, aerobic exercise does not necessarily mean going to the gym and enrolling in aerobics classes. It also involves walking and other chores which require more oxygen demand. With the use of almost 1,300 studies and papers involving subjects of exercise and cognition, the researchers attempted to put together a balanced view of the subject matter.

Dr. J Eric Ahlskog, lead author of the study and neurologist, said that exercise can be used as a modifying strategy to prevent dementia and cognitive impairments. The following are the more detailed findings of the said study:

-          Some studies show a significant reduction of the risks of dementia among people who exercise.

-          Midlife exercise also lessened the risks of mild cognitive impairment.

-          Patients with dementia or MCI had better scores after 6 to 12 months of exercise compared to sedentary controls.

-          Healthy adults who did aerobic exercise also showed significantly improved cognitive scores.

-          In one large trial of seniors, one year of exercise was linked to significantly larger hippocampal volumes and better spatial memory (cross-sectional studies comparing physically fit with unfit seniors appear to confirm this evidence).

-          In other trials with seniors, aerobic exercise was linked to a smaller loss of age-related gray matter.

-          fMRI scans showed that connectivity in brain cognitive networks improved after 6 to 12 months of exercise.

-          Animal studies suggest exercise increases neuroplasticity by several biological routes, resulting in improved learning.

-          Animal studies also show exercise increases brain neurotrophic factors (these help grow and repair brain cells), and there is indirect evidence of the same in humans.

-          Exercise may also lessen cognitive decline by cutting cerebrovascular risk, including small vessel disease, which leads to dementia.

In conclusion, the researchers said that exercise should not be overlooked as an important therapeutic strategy. While exercise is considered a good thing in general, regardless of the presence or absence of diseases, more research should be targeted towards the relationship between physical activity and levels of cognition. Also, physicians should encourage exercise not only for physical health but also for cognitive health.




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