Physical exercise is conditioning for the entire body, but did you know that even the brain benefits?
The brain is a muscle that must be stimulated and flexed in order to stay strong and vibrant – and not just mentally. Though Alzheimer’s disease is currently believed to be incurable and irreversible, you can keep your mind sharper longer and greatly reduce your risk for developing the disease by staying physically active.
Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease
An excessive amount of zinc in your diet is believed to be a
potential cause for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Experts recommend up to 15 mg of zinc daily to stay in the healthy range.
Having a family history of Alzheimer’s, or dementia as it is also known, also increases your risk – particularly if you acquire one of the genes from your mom or dad that produces a protein in the blood known as APOE4.
If you have ever been the victim of a head injury – say, from a car accident – your chances are doubled.
People who have very little formal education are also at risk for developing the disease, probably because their brains aren’t as stimulated or challenged. Learning is a critical part of fighting the disease and keeping it at bay.
Another surprising fact is that people with smaller-than-average heads are more likely to acquire the disease.
Furthermore, those who regularly take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like aspirin and ibuprofen are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
People who constantly challenge and feed their brains intellectually – whether it’s through reading, doing crossword puzzles and brain teasers, learning, social activity, etc. – keep the brain firing and active, so that it’s less likely to break down and you’re more likely to retain memories and stay mentally aware well into old age.
Brain food like fatty fish, nuts and dark green, leafy vegetables (which contain omega-3 fatty acids) also cuts your risks.
Last, but certainly not least, physical exercise reduces your risk substantially.
What Effect Does Physical Exercise Have on Alzheimer’s Disease?
Studies have shown that regular physical exercise can reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by 38 percent. This is because physical activity, just like mental exercise, keeps blood flowing to and from the brain, which strengthens nerve cells; increases immunity in the brain so that disease is less likely to invade that space; and ensures that nerve cells continue communicating and expanding their connections rather than dying off with inactivity.
The bottom line is that activity equals life, while inactivity equals death; the same applies to the physical body. The saying is true: “Use it or lose it.” Physical exercise is so important to your overall health, so never stop being active no matter how old you get. Your body and your brain are depending on you.