Avoiding Alzheimer's: Did You Know?
We all grow old, and not even science can prevent aging — at least, not yet. As we grow old, we start losing much of our vitality, and tend to be at risk of various illnesses, including neurodegenerative ones like Alzheimer’s. Data from Alzheimer’s Association reveals that 5.8 million Americans are affected by the condition, which is the leading cause of dementia. It is also the 6th leading cause of death in America, and about 14 million are predicted to acquire it by 2050. Those are grim statistics, and they are made even worse by the fact that there is, to date, no known cure for it. However, there just might be a way to avoid it through regular exercise. A literature review on the link between Alzheimer’s and exercise published on Current Sports Medicine Reports confirms that exercise can be an effective way to prevent the disease, in part because it improves neurogenesis. The review specifically states that “higher physical activity levels are associated with a reduced risk of development of disease.” It also establishes that physical inactivity is “one of the most common preventable risk factors for developing Alzheimer’s.” Meanwhile, the results of a study published in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association also underscore the positive impact that exercise has against Alzheimer’s. The data shows that at least 2.5 hours of exercise a week could delay the onset of Alzheimer’s for those with autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease (ADAD), a rare genetic mutation that renders an individual genetically predisposed to the condition. In other words, people with ADAD inevitably develop Alzheimer’s, but regular exercise has been shown to delay its onset. Apart from improving neurogenesis, exercise also releases the hormone irisin. New Scientist explains that irisin may be responsible for protecting the brain, as a shortage of irisin has been linked to learning and memory deficits. Now, the link between irisin production and Alzheimer’s prevention have not been proven to be causal; however, it should be noted that those with the disease have been shown to have lower levels of irisin — which is generated by muscle tissues and transported around the body via the bloodstream — as opposed to healthy individuals. Whatever your belief is on the matter, you have every incentive to give exercise a chance. Remember, Alzheimer’s can afflict anyone, including you. Moreover, Alzheimer’s worsens over time, to the point that those suffering from it will need a support group, ideally with someone knowledgeable about geriatric care. Unfortunately, there might not be enough healthcare professionals to meet the growing number of Alzheimer’s sufferers here in the U.S. In fact, Maryville University notes that there is a looming nursing and physician shortage, which can only be addressed by bringing through a high number of specialist graduates in the coming years. Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners, in particular, can give invaluable assistance to elderly people suffering from this debilitating disease. You can be one of those people in the future, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give exercise a chance. Have a read of our ‘Tips on Behavioral Change’, which might help you change your mind. View the information you’ve learned here as positive and starts exercising today. If anything, exercising regularly has a lot of other benefits. It’ll make you healthier and fitter, and hopefully reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s in later life, too.
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Written by Alyssa Carrie
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