Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease which leads to a degeneration of cognitive, physical function, memory and a progressive loss to quality of life. You may have heard AD and dementia spoken about in the same breath, but are they the same thing? Dementia is an umbrella term to describe a reduction in brain function, severe enough to impact upon daily life. AD is the most prominent cause of dementia, with around 550,000 Australians recorded to be living with this disease in 2014 and an estimated 891,000 by 2030!
What are the risk factors for Alzheimer’s Disease?
While there does not appear to be a single cause for AD, some likely factors can be identified. Some of these risk factors are non-modifiable, such as age, Gender, family history, genetics (heredity). However, other risk factors associated with increased chances of developing AD are modifiable and can be addressed, such as excessive alcohol consumption, severe head injury or lifestyle choices leading to poor heart health, such as: lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure/cholesterol or poorly managed diabetes.
Can Exercise help with Alzheimer’s Disease?
While AD may be progressive and incurable, there are many forms of treatment that can help reduce symptoms, improve quality of life and slow the progression of this Disease. The risk factors associated with AD are predominantly connected to reduced physical activity, and therefore exercise can be used as ‘medicine’ to effectively prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise is not only an effective management for AD, but it’s also free, fun and available for all! So then, how does exercise specifically help with addressing Alzheimer’s disease? By engaging with regular exercise, a wide range of positive adaptions can take place, such as:
Slowing the progression of AD in people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment.
Improving physical and mental function.
Slowing or reversing the muscle wasting often associated with progressive AD.
Improving mood and depression in those already living with dementia.
Reducing behavioural problems in people with advanced Alzheimer’s disease.
By keeping regular with exercise, you reduce your risk of developing AD compared to those who do not partake in physically active lifestyles. By maintaining a regular exercise routine many healthy adaptions to start to occur, including the reduction of a particular protein (beta amyloid) which is currently thought to be the main cause of AD by forming plaque that damages brain function.
Exercise can even benefit people who already show signs of AD by improving their quality of life, slowing down the disease progression, and improving physical function and health.
What type of exercise is recommended?
Current recommendations are to engage in 30 minutes of exercise each day, for at least 5 times a week. If you are new to exercise or perhaps time poor, you can break these exercise sessions into smaller bouts spread across your day, with each bout lasting at least 10 mins of continuous activity.
It is important to set goals in order to make sure your exercise is effective. Goals of exercise should be to prevent or manage AD by:
Maintaining or increasing muscle mass and strength
Decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome
Increase testosterone levels (particularly resistance or weight training) to help protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function
Provide a socially engaging and interactive environment.
No matter your age, experience or skill level, there is always the right way, type and amount of engaging with exercise safely and effectively! Those with AD and dementia can benefit from a regular programme ranging from vigorous intensity, down to gentle exercise that is completed from a seated position that aim to build or maintain muscle strength and balance.
If you are new to exercise, or want expert help to guide you in your journey, reach out to one of our Exercise Physiology experts.
Interested In Making A Booking?
Prescribe Exercise are your local Exercise Physiology specialists. We provide exercise rehabilitation from our purpose built Exercise Physiology Clinics in Wollongong and Warrawong. Our clinic has been designed solely for the improvement of your health, wellbeing and injury rehabilitation. We will assist you to achieve excellence through education and empowerment while providing you with the highest quality care and exercise best practice available. We genuinely care for our clients and want to make a difference in your life so you can get better and regain control of your health once again.
Tel. (02) 4259 0384 126 Church St, Wollongong, NSW, 2500
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Post Created By David - Accredited Exercise Physiologist.
Prescribe Exercise are your local exercise physiology specialists. We provide exercise rehabilitation to assist manage and prevent injury and chronic disease in the Wollongong and Illawarra area. Our programs will assist to achieve personal excellence, we do this by taking the time to educate and empower you with the highest quality care and exercise best practice available. We genuinely care for our clients and want to make a difference in your life, we will help you to get better and stay better so that you can regain control of your health once again.
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