Exercise and Dementia: Can Dementia Be Prevented Through Exercise?

We all know that mind and body are connected. It’s the symbiotic relationship that exists in every human being. But are there actually dementia fighting exercises? Turns out, there are…Exercise and Dementia: Can Dementia Be Prevented Through Exercise

If you could help prevent dementia through specific exercising, would you? I know that I would — especially since the debilitating and heart wrenching disease runs in my family.

Well according to a 2012 study at the University of British Columbia, exercise does seem to increases brain power, and more specifically; certain types of exercises seem to have be brain boosters. The experiment involved rats in three test groups:

  • Rats involved in resistance training – Had weights tied to their tails and climbed ladders to simulate resistance training.
  • Rats involved in running – Ran on little treadmills in their cages.
  • Rats doing no exercising (sedentary rats)

What were the results? After eight weeks, both exercise groups performed much better than the sedentary rats, and the brains of the active rats were remarkably different. Each group of the exercising rats displayed different brain proteins, and each of the proteins have been shown to help fight plaques associated with dementia by sparking the creation of new connections in the brain. So the findings support that exercise and dementia are connected and that having a combination of effective endurance and weight training can help support brain health.

Dementia Prevention Brain Exercises

Here are some recommended endurance and weight training exercises to help maintain healthy senior lifestyles. But remember to get a healthcare provider’s approval before doing any type of exercises.

Endurance Exercises

  1. Walking briskly with no incline. Walking is great to get the senior heart rate up, without straining joints. 15 to 30 minutes of brisk walking 3 to 4 times a week is a great way to help seniors maintain both physical and mental fitness.
  2. Swimming. Water is great for old joints as it is buoyant and provides a free-flow, low impact environment for senior workouts. Either lap swimming or water aerobics are great for seniors. Many health centers offer either open lap swim or senior water aerobics classes, so check with your local community pool.
  3. Gardening. Gardening offers an enjoyable alternative to working out, although it’s more difficult to measure the exercise. If gardening is the desired workout, make sure it’s alternated with another endurance option.
  4. Cycling on stationary bicycle. Cycling on a stationary bicycle can be a senior favorite as it can be done while watching tv. 15 to 30 minutes on the bicycle is ideal to get the heart rate up.

Resistance and Strength Exercises

1. Bicep Curls

  • Sit in an armless chair and keep feet flat and even with shoulders.
  • Hold hand weights (1 lb to 5 lb weights) at sides with arms straight. Palms should be facing toward the body.
  • Slowly bend an elbow, lifting weight toward chest. Rotate palm to face shoulder while lifting weight.
  • Hold position 1 to 5 seconds and slowly lower arm to starting position.
  • Repeat with other arm and alternate until you’ve done 8 to 15 times on each side.
  • Rest and continue reps, as many times as wanted.

2. Chair Stands

  • Place pillows against back of chair.
  • Sit in middle of chair, knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Lean back on pillows in half-reclining position – Back and shoulders should be kept straight.
  • Raise upper body forward until sitting upright, using hands as little as possible. Back should no longer lean against pillows.
  • Slowly stand up, and try to not use hands.
  • Slowly sit back down. Keep back and shoulders straight through the process.
  • Repeat 8 to 15 times, rest, and repeat 8 to 15 times more.

Learn more about these exercises and discover more strength exercise options for seniors.

What do you think about this research? Do you think a combination of endurance and resistance training can help prevent dementia? Do you have exercises that have worked well for your loved one? Share them with us in the comments below.

Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • davewyman

    The study doesn’t seem to indicate that exercise wards off dementia. It only seems to show that exercise helps make or keep us mentally sharp compared to those who don’t exercise. For all we know, certain forms of exercise might bring on or make worse some kinds of dementia.

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