The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing—up 68 percent in the last decade—resulting in half a million deaths per year in the United States, placing it as the sixth biggest killer. Over 5 million people in the US alone suffer from this terrible disease.
There is no one definitive cause for this insidious malediction; it is most likely a combination of factors, not the least of which is a genetic predisposition.
Death resulting from Alzheimer’s is often due to the physical consequences: blood clots and bedsores due to immobility, sickness that the weakened immune system can’t fend off, and the like.
A newly released study by the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago approximates that deaths attributable to Alzheimer’s are six times what was originally thought. Healthcare providers don’t always hold the dementia responsible for the conditions directly leading to death.
Simple Solution to Taking Care of your Brain
As scientists study this degenerative and debilitating disease, evidence has emerged that there are ways to prevent or delay onset of its symptoms. One of these is exercise.
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Not really a surprise, vigorous exercise benefits every aspect of your body—of which your brain is usually an active part. Good news can be found in the results of a recent study that show that embarking on a regular exercise regimen—even at middle age—just two days a week can have a marked effect on the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The most marked effect was found in overweight adults, showing a significant decrease in risk of developing dementia than people who don’t exercise:
“Further staying physically active, or becoming more active, after midlife may also contribute to lowering dementia risk, especially in people who are overweight or obese at midlife. The findings were not explained by socioeconomic background, age, sex, genetic risk factors, obesity, weight loss, general health status or work-related physical activity.”
The Mayo Clinic says about preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease:
“The strongest evidence so far suggests that you may be able to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing your risk of heart disease. Many of the same factors that increase your risk of heart disease can also increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Important factors that may be involved include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, excess weight and diabetes. New programs targeted to people at high risk of dementia are being developed. These multicomponent programs encourage physical activity, cognitive stimulation, social engagement and a healthy diet. They also teach memory compensation strategies that help optimize daily function even if brain changes progress. Keeping active—physically, mentally and socially—may make your life more enjoyable and may also help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Common sense may be life sense. Living in nurturing relationships with others, eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, participating in activities that stimulate your mind, and avoiding toxins in the environment contribute to your physical, mental, and spiritual health and longevity. The time to start is today.