Seniors need to remain physically active to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing a variety of medical conditions, and research suggests that engaging in exercise reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Here are a few ways exercise lowers Alzheimer’s risk.
1. Lowers APOE-Related Risk
Some people have a gene variant known as APOE epsilon4, and seniors tested positive for this gene have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic learned that exercise can reduce Alzheimer’s risk. The scientists studied a group of elderly people who had the APOE epsilon4 gene. The group was divided in two, one of which began regular exercise routines, and the other continued living their lives without exercise. The researchers found that the group who exercised scored higher on cognitive function tests compared to the control group. Imaging studies indicated that the brains of the seniors who exercised looked similar to people who didn’t have the APOE gene.
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2. Increases Nutrients in the Body
It is widely known that exercise benefits cardiovascular health. Scientists from the University of Kentucky learned more about how cardiovascular health also boosts mental wellbeing. As the heart and blood vessels are better able to circulate blood throughout the body, the brain receives more oxygen and nutrients. When the brain is well nourished, it is better able to grow and undergo repair when needed. The neurons also create an increased number of acetylcholine receptors. The neurotransmitter and associated receptor sites play an important role in communication between the neurons.
3. Promotes Neuron Growth
When seniors exercise regularly, the brain produces neurotrophic factors, which are necessary for it to develop new cells and grow properly. When the brain functions at its best, older adults enjoy better emotional health and sleep patterns and are less likely to experience anxiety and stress. All of these factors also boost cognitive health.
4. Minimizes Brain Shrinkage
Scientists from Scotland studied more than 600 older adults to learn the effects of exercise on the brain. They evaluated imaging studies of the volunteers. The individuals who exercised had less brain shrinkage compared to those who preferred sedentary lifestyles. A study performed at the University of British Columbia also revealed that cycling, jogging, and swimming increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
Older adults who need help exercising should consider professional in-home care. Find out how a Douglas County, Colorado, elderly caregiver can help your senior loved one enjoy a higher quality of life by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. All of our professional respite and live-in caregivers are trained in comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care, and they can also assist seniors with basic daily tasks like exercise, cooking, bathing, and light housekeeping.
5. Reduces Inflammation
A study published in a 2011 issue of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity explained that older adults who regularly exercise have less inflammation. The brain and body produce chemicals that inhibit inflammation and protect cells from the damage caused in the presence of irritants. However, researchers were unsure whether the brain effectively reduced the presence of the harmful toxins that cause inflammation or assisted in their breakdown and removal.
Caring for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenging task, especially if it is managed alone. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Douglas County, Colorado, senior care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your elderly loved one, call one of our professional Care Managers at 720-287-1685 today.