Moves to slow dementia
ALZHEIMER’S disease is the most common form of dementia, and with September being World Alzheimer’s Month and yesterday [Sept 21] being World Alzheimer’s Day, here are some of the best exercises to slow cognitive decline.
Aerobic exercise Whether you choose walking, dancing, or even gardening, two studies published earlier this year found that virtually any type of aerobic exercise can be beneficial for improving brain health, increasing brain volume, and helping reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 50%.
Research carried out by a team from UCLA, California, the US, also found that physical activity increased brain volume, especially in those aged 75 and older, leading the team to suggest it is never too late to get involved in physical activity.
Yoga A small-scale study from UCLA and Australia’s University of Adelaide has found that participants who attended classes of Kundalini yoga and practised 20 minutes of meditation every day showed bigger improvements in visual-spatial memory skills, which help with recalling locations and navigating, than those who attended memory enhancement training and practised memory exercises daily.
Those in the yoga and meditation group also showed larger improvements in levels of depression, anxiety, coping skills and resilience to stress, which are important when coming to terms with the onset of cognitive impairment.
Weightlifting A Canadian study found that lifting weights twice a week helps to maintain brain health.
The team looked at the effect of weight training on the brain’s white matter, which is particularly susceptible to lesions (holes) as we age, causing problems with memory and thinking skills.
The results showed that those who did balancing and stretching exercises, or weight-trained just once a week showed a significant increase in the number of white matter lesions.
But those who weighttrained twice a week showed less shrinkage of their white matter, suggesting that if the minimum threshold of working out twice a week is achieved, lifting weights can have a positive impact on the structure of the brain. – AFPRelaxnews