|With "Brain Awareness Week" on our doorstop, this is the perfect time to shine the light on exercise therapy for your brain, specifically with regards to Alzheimer's disease. There is growing evidence linking exercise to the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's, so much so that Dr Ronald Petersen, Director of the Alzheimer’s Research Centre at the US Mayo Clinic, has stated that,
“Regular physical exercise is probably the best means we have of preventing Alzheimer’s disease today, better than medications, better than intellectual activity, better than supplements and diet”.
What is Alzheimer's disease?
Alzheimer's is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gradually worsens over time. It results in impaired memory, thinking and behaviour, and can significantly restrict quality of life.
The role of exercise in prevention and treatment:
Exercise is important for brain health. Primary benefits include:
- Increased brain volume
- Increased cognitive function
- Increased levels of irisin, generated by muscle tissue, which has been shown to have a protective effect on brain cells
Exercise interventions over 6-12 month periods have shown that exercise increases blood flow to the brain which can stimulate the growth of brain cells and connections between them. Exercise has also been shown to be important in preventing muscle wastage, maintaining bone health, improving physical function and mental health within Alzheimer’s disease patients. Regular exercise has also been proven to improve memory and thinking skills.
What type of exercise?
Any exercise is better than none, but here's some targets to work towards: