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Exercise for Brain Health

In 2018 there is an estimated 425,416 Australians living with dementia and 250 joining this population each day. Around 6% of these Australian’s have younger onset dementia and this number is increasing.

So what is Dementia?

Dementia is actually not one disease. Dementia is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms caused by disorders of the brain. It affects thinking, behaviour, and the ability to complete activities of daily living enough to interfere with everyday life. Some of the risk factors for dementia include cardiovascular disease, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol and family history. Many of these risk factors are modifiable and we can reduce our risk of dementia by making healthy lifestyle choices.

How can you decrease your risk of getting Dementia?

Research is now showing that exercise can be beneficial for not only prevention of dementia but also slowing cognitive and physical decline of those suffering from dementia.
Exercise has been shown to increase production of neurons (nerve cells) within the nervous system, improve metabolism and increase vascular function. These exercises induced changes have been documented in numerous regions of the brain, however, it is most well-known to occur in the hippocampus, the area of the brain best associated with memory and emotions. Furthermore, research has found increases in the size of the hippocampus with exercise. Associated with these increased hippocampal volumes is increased levels of BDNF a protein responsible for growth, maturation, and maintenance of nerve cells. On top of this, exercise can improve the overall quality of life for those with dementia who often suffer from stress and depression.

So what type of exercise should you do?

A combination of both aerobic and resistance exercise is crucial for an effective dementia prevention program or reducing dementia decline. An individualised program featuring both modalities of exercise will produce the aforementioned benefits plus more!

If you have been diagnosed with dementia and want to commence an exercise program to reduce the rate of decline or just want to decrease your risk of dementia, visit an Exercise Physiologist at Optimum Health Solutions so we can help you stay brain fit!

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