How can exercise and good body weight help you stay safe from dementia?

We have three factors in the mix over here – dementia, exercises, and good body weight with each related to the other. To begin with, let’s understand what dementia is first. It is a progressive disorder of the brain that impairs cognition and memory.
The degenerative disease also impacts a patient’s thinking, ability, and behavior. There are nearly 47.5 million dementia patients in the world with about 7.7 million new cases every year. Typically, dementia affects people in their old age, which is why it is regarded as a disease that increases the mental impairment and dependency of the senior population.

Since most cases of dementia don’t have a cure, a person is left with the option of taking preventative steps. After all, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. This brings us to good body weight and exercise, both of which help reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Here is an in-depth dive into how both of these factors will help safeguard you against the brain disorder:

How does exercise help stave off dementia?

Physical exercise has developed strong credibility along several lines. It helps lessen stress, improve cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles and bones, and so on. Interestingly, exercise also leaves a positive impact on your brain.

The simplest underlying explanation to this is that exercise carries more oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells. This helps improve the health of brain cells and enhances their chances of growth and survival. Therefore, researchers consider regular exercise one of the chief factors that can minimize the risk of developing mixed dementia or any other type of dementia for that matter.


What does the research say?

Studies confirm that exercise can improve brain metabolism. Researchers are of the view that exercise in all the stages of life (early, mid, and late) corresponds with a chopped risk of cognitive decline.

A landmark study concluded that an hour of exercise can halve that risk of having Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia attributing for 60-80% of the dementia cases.

The research also reveals that one in three dementia cases can be prevented by increasing physical activity, dealing with health concerns such as obesity, and reducing smoking. Therefore, the investigation shows that both the pointers being discussed in this article, exercise and good body weight, play a crucial role in warding off dementia.

How much exercise should you do?

As per to the World Health Organization (WHO), people aged 65 or older should practice the following:

Dedicate 150 minutes to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise
Alternatively, engage in 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise
Or, practice both moderate and strenuous activity that pair with muscle-strengthening activities
Regarding general physical health, mounting evidence recommends considering three main exercises. These include flexibility and balance training, sustained aerobic exercise, and strength, weight or resistance training.

Put simply, exercise can assist in:

Nourishing your brain cells
Sharpening your reasoning, thinking, and learning skills
Delaying Alzheimer’s disease

Not only does exercise keep dementia at bay, but it also slows the disease’s progress in the case of patients. What’s more, physical activity can help improve reasoning, memory, and thinking skills among people with mild Alzheimer’s disease.

How does good body weight help fend off dementia?

The study that indicates that regular physical activity can lessen the risk of Alzheimer’s by half also confirms that obesity can work the other way. As per the same research, mid-life obesity can multiply the risk of Alzheimer’s by 60%.

Excess body weight correlates with the accumulation of too much fat tissue, which leaves harmful effects on the body. Roughly 160 million people in the US are either overweight or obese. About 60% of the American women are overweight or obese. At the same time, three-quarters of the male population in the country is overweight or obese.

What does the research say?

Researchers claim that being overweight weakens a specific area in the brain’s white matter called as the fornix. This area connects the hippocampus, a brain region that is linked memory and learning, to other brain areas.

Damage to the hippocampus is a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, any degeneration or damage in the hippocampus-associated areas such as the fornix can swell the risk of cognitive impairment.

In simple words, the possibility of too much fat may culminate in complex changes in the brain that make it more vulnerable to degeneration. At the same time, excess weight is associated with increased insulin in the bloodstream.

This interferes with the brain’s energy levels by reducing the amount of glucose that the brain gets. This also sets the path for the development of dementia. There are other explanations presented as well.

However, scientists are still working to have a clearer picture of the connection between excess fat and dementia risk. What is important to understand is that good body weight is essential for keeping dementia at arm’s length.

What can you do?

The answer to this is simple – aim to reduce weight if you are overweight or work to maintain your healthy weight if you are fit. Some effective ways to keep the weight digits in check include:

Regular physical activity
No overeating
Eating healthy food and observing portion control

If your weight isn’t at its best, consider following a diet and making small lifestyle changes to bring it down. For instance, start with slashing the intake of junk food and add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts to your diet. Likewise, slowly cut the intake of sugary and fatty foods.

Closing thoughts

Alzheimer’s disease kills 1 in 3 senior folks. In fact, it kills more people than prostate and breast cancer combined. Therefore, it is best to take preventative measures such as making the recommended lifestyle changes that can help save you from dementia.

Moving forward, incorporate physical activity and work to maintain good body weight. Over and above that, take an online dementia test regularly to keep tabs on your brain health and cognitive well-being.