The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Brain benefit
- Improved blood supply fosters nerve connection

If you are on the odd side of 30s and want to avoid brain disorders like dementia or its most fierce cousin, Alzheimer’s disease, later in your life, start exercising from today. A new study published last week in the journal Lancet Neurology says that exercise not only works wonders for our body, but for our brain as well.

Dementia takes many years to develop. And it can only be diagnosed in an advanced stage. The two-decade-long study reported in the journal first confirmed the role of exercise in thwarting senility, which was concluded by a few recent smaller, shorter-term researches on animals and humans. Scientists from the Aging Research Center of the Sweden’s Karolinska Institute discovered that people who engaged in “leisure-time physical activity in the middle age” ' breathlessness and sweating for half an hour twice a week ' had a 50 per cent lower chance of developing dementia, and a 60 per cent lower chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A group of 1,449 people, 69 and older, whose exercise habits had been monitored from 1972 to 1998 in five-year intervals, were studied.

Dr Miia Kivipelto, lead author of the study, says, “Physical activity affects genes and compounds important for maintaining good intelligence and memory later in life or enjoying cognitively vital years.”

According to him, improved blood circulation induced by exercise may foster an increase in nerve connections, making the brain more resilient. It can help keep the small blood vessels of the brain healthy and reduce the amount of the protein that builds up Alzheimer’s.

3 aspects of memory disorders

1 Dementia, a progressive brain dysfunction, leads to a loss of thinking, remembering, imagining and learning activities due to changes in the brain. The changes may occur gradually or quickly; and how they occur may determine whether dementia is reversible or irreversible. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia; it affects the way people think and causes memory loss in elderly people.

2 People with cardiovascular diseases have an elevated risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Inheriting the genes associated with Alzheimer’s or Huntington’s disease can be a cause. Untreated infectious and metabolic diseases, trauma and substance abuse may also lead to these troubles.

3 Mind games (doing crosswords or learning a new language) or leisure activities curb dementia development. Dancing, playing board games or musical instruments and reading can also help. Walking and a balanced diet are also known to reduce the risk of the mental decline which is associated with aging.

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