ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Nearly half of North Americans over age 85 and 13 percent over age 65 suffer from dementia. Now, research is showing exercise may help ward off this common disease.
You work out for your body, but could all that time in the gym also help your brain?
Scientists know that humans lose brain cells as they age, but research shows you may be able to make new ones by exercising.
Here’s what happens. As your heart rate increases, blood flow to the brain does, too, which means your brain is exposed to more oxygen and releases beneficial proteins that promote the growth of new neurons. “You don’t have to become a triathlete. Just 20 minutes a day of brisk walking is associated with lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s,” said Gary Small, MD, Director of the UCLA Longevity Center.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, combining the results of 11 studies shows that regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30 percent.
For Alzheimer’s Disease specifically, the risk is reduced by 45 percent.
Most of these studies involved participants who exercised three times a week for at least a year. The bottom line? If you want to boost your brain power, you have to boost your exercise as well.
Some studies have also shown that aerobic exercise can improve performance on thinking tests in the short-term.
An analysis of 29 clinical trials showed a month or more of regular aerobic exercise resulted in improvements in memory, attention, and processing speed when compared to non-aerobic exercises.