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Any physical activity that gets the heart pumping and the oxygen flowing will cut the risk of dementia and even slow its progress if it has already started. Mayo researchers examined the role of aerobic exercise in preserving cognitive abilities and have determined that aerobic activity should be a key part of any treatment for any type of dementia.
They point out that aerobic exercise doesn’t need to be in a gym with an instructor and special clothing. Instead, aerobics include walking, gardening, raking leaves and doing chores around the house. Even parking a little further away than you normally would from your grocery store or pharmacy.
“We concluded that you can make a very compelling argument for exercise as a disease-modifying strategy to prevent dementia and mild cognitive impairment, and for favorably modifying these processes once they have developed,” said Dr. J. Eric Ahlskog, lead author and neurologist from the Mayo Clinic.
Brain scans consistently show objective evidence of the benefits of exercise on preserving cognitive abilities. Animal studies also show exercise produces trophic factors that improve brain functioning and neuroplasticity.
And exercise routines need not start when the person is young. Midlife exercise showed a significant reduction in dementia risk. Midlife exercise also reduced risks of mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Just one year of exercise linked to significantly larger hippocampal volumes and better spatial memory. Also fMRI scans showed that brain connectivity was improved after only 6-12 months of regular, moderate aerobics. Additionally aerobic exercise was linked to a smaller loss of gray matter for seniors.
Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, MedicalNewsToday
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