Alzheimer's disease can be delayed and even prevented by living a healthier lifestyle when young, and that includes exercising. We don't completely understand what triggers Alzheimer's and dementia in general.
For decades doctors have been preaching we should pump, run, and row our way to good health. But hitting the pavement and the gym for your brain? That's exactly what a growing number of scientists are advising their patients. "The brain needs to be washed out and when you exercise, our metabolism goes up and our brain is cleansed." claims Dr. Braverman. Experts point to a growing body of evidence that preventing dementia may go hand-in-hand with preventing cardio-vascular disease.
The risk factors for both diseases are the same: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, an overweight body and smoking. The exercise is not only for the euphoria but for *real* benefits to your brain. "I feel much better. Physically of course, but mentally too." says Edward Slaska. "Exercise is critical. It increases blood flow, it stops the brain blood vessels from clogging up and the neurons from clogging up." says neurologist Dr. Eric Braverman. He believes we should think of our brains as a highway: when a person slows down, so does the blood flow, allowing proteins or amyloids to "park" and clog up the lanes of the highway. The result: messages don't get thru, we start to forget things, and eventually develop dementia. Dr. Braverman says, "Obesity and everything about lack of fitness feeds inflammation and destruction of brain cells."
Research out of Canada suggests that exercise especially cuts the risk of Alzheimer's in women. The study found those in the most active group compared to inactive individuals were 50% less likely to develop Alzheimer's and 40% less likely to develop any other type of dementia or mental impairment.
Fitness trainers like Chris Uy aren't surprised. "It's not all about losing weight, it's not all about preventing injury or helping injury, it's also about feeling good physically, mentally, emotionally, for some people spiritually." says Chris. It's called "The Edge": athletes know it well. Perhaps the rest of us, in New York and other places, need to seek it too for our minds as well as our hearts. "Healthy body, healthy brain, healthy brain healthy body, the two are attached, they go together." exclaims Dr. Braverman. Doctors say the same risk factors that raise a persons' chances of having a heart attack or stroke, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, raise the risk of dementia as well.
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