Decrease Dementia Risk with “Cognitive Cardio”

I am sure that many of you have seen a grandparent or a loved-one become affected by Dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Organization, Dementia is a general “term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities.”

My grandfather started to show signs of Dementia when he reached 92 years of age.  He started to forget things which had happened earlier in the day. One of the saddest instances of his short-term memory loss was when he, a life-long Red Sox fan, forgot that he had watched the Red Sox win the World Series the night before.

Much energy has been put into see what factors can reduce the risk of Dementia. Researchers have experimented to see if performing mind games, such as Sudoku, can ward off the disease.  Unfortunately, there are currently no specific types of brain exercises.

However, there is one thing absolutely linked to decreasing the risk of getting Dementia, and that is… Cardiovascular exercise!

Good for Your Heart and Your Brain

Researchers have found that Cardiovascular Exercise has properties which help protect the brain from getting Dementia later in life. Cardiovascular exercise pushes oxygen enriched blood to the brain, bathing the cells with nutrients while transporting away waste materials. This infusion of fresh blood correlates with reduced rates of Dementia in the aging population. Research also shows irregular and different cardiovascular activity (like Zumba or Step Aerobics) is even more protective of the brain.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that individuals over 65 complete vigorous aerobic activity for 20 minutes, 3 days/week to reduce the risk of Dementia. Research has found that the benefits of cardiovascular exercise stretches into the late 80’s.

So the next time that you step onto the treadmill for a walk or a run, you are doing it to protect your brain! Please reach out to one of the personal trainers if you would like a new cardiovascular program for brain health.

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Diana grew up in a small suburb north of Boston. She received her clinical doctorate degree in Physical Therapy at Boston University in 2006. Diana started practicing as a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital. While at MGH, she developed a specialty in the evaluation and treatment of complex lumbopelvic dysfunction. Diana is currently practicing at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston where she is the Orthopedic Clinical Supervisor of the Spine program. She is presently a Boston resident and her interests outside physical therapy include cooking, walking on the Esplanade, and international travel.

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