Dementia and Exercise

October 7, 2015

If you need any encouragement to get outside to jog, bike or walk, lowering your risk of dementia has to be one of the biggest reasons. Exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do to combat obesity and other health problems, but also has the potential to lower your risk for dementia. Staying active is not only healthy for your body, but lowers your risk of cognitive decline.

 

Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease that is progressive and incurable. Dementia results in a decline in memory and function with behavioral and psychological problems. The prevalence of dementia is about 1-2% at age 65 to as much as 30% at age 85. In the US over 5 million people are affected and as the baby boomers age it will get increasingly worse. 60-90% of dementia is related to Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

There are huge economic costs associated with healthcare as we age. The health care industry  expects to see medical costs rise to over $500 billion by 2040. At some point, family members will have to turn to hiring caregivers or institutional care for their loved ones. Currently, dementia care costs $159-215 billion annually and this does not include the unpaid caregivers such as spouses and family. One of the most significant factors to lower the risk of dementia is exercise.

 

Exercise promotes vascular health, increases blood and oxygen flow and tones muscles. Numerous studies have even shown a positive impact on cognition, function and behavior once diagnosed with dementia. The American Heart Association encourages adults to engage in moderate aerobic activity 150 minutes per week which is about 30 minutes a day, five days a week. It is also important to include muscle strengthening and flexibility activities at least 2-3 days per week. Pick activities that you enjoy and you will be more likely to stick to them. The economic and personal savings will be immeasurable.

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