Alzheimer’s is a disease that has no cause nor cure. It is better to prevent it than to repent after acquiring it. One of the most feared diseases today, if there is one good thing that can be done to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, it is exercise.
Physical Activity to Prevent the Onset of the Disease
Already existing research and ongoing research point to the single fact that regular physical activity helps reduce memory degeneration and maintain cognitive abilities as we age. Anything good for the heart is good for the brain. Apart from reducing the risk of dementia regular exercise also puts away the risk of Alzheimer’s, one type of dementia.
Physical Activity Just After the Onset of Disease
A long-term study with around 2000 participants found that people with Alzheimer’s who were not-so physically active were four times at a risk of brain shrinkage than those who were physically active. This proves that exercise helps to deteriorate the progress of the disease. Although medications available for AD can reduce some of the symptoms, none of it can slow the progress of the disease. Making exercise a daily habit can preserve cognitive skills along with increasing your fitness quotient.
Physical Activity at the Mid-stage of Disease
Exercise at this stage helps the individual to:
Physical Activity at Last Stage of Disease
At this stage, the need of a personal therapist becomes mandatory to analyze the patient’s personal goals. The physical activity should focus on promoting mobility, independent living skills, muscle memory (needed to use a toothbrush or pencil) and strong neck muscles. Such regular and personalized care can prevent the need of a personal assistant to help the patient with the daily needs. These activities are more successful on patients who have a long history of regular exercising than on those who have led more sedentary lives.
What Type of Physical Activity are We Talking About?
While some studies insist on strength-training (weight lifting) for cognitive improvements some other studies insist on high calorie-burning activities such as cycling or running. But most studies highlight the benefits of moderate-intensity exercises (walking or aerobics) done at least thrice a week. Do what you feel like doing. Make exercise a fun activity and do what please you. Enroll in a gym, take your best friend to workout with you, join an aerobics class, go for a walk in a calm park, swim, dance or take a bike ride. If you are not used to physical activity but in your early or mid-stage of Alzheimer’s, it is best to involve yourself in activities such as yoga, Tai Chi, walking, balancing and strength training exercises. A personal trainer is of utmost help here as he/she can teach you exercises depending on your disease’s stage and the ability to perform.
Whatever activity you are involved in, practice it regularly and with proper guidance. There is nothing better than exercising to fight against Alzheimer’s.
Dietitian Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.