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How Can Physical Exercise Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?

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Updated March 15, 2008

Illustration © A.D.A.M.
Illustration © A.D.A.M.
Question: How Can Physical Exercise Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease?
Answer: A great way to reduce your risk of Alzheimer's disease is through physical exercise. Starting and sticking with a regular exercise program is often the most difficult lifestyle change we try to make. Many of us work full-time, run a household, and rarely get eight hours of sleep each night, let alone find time to go to the gym. The good news is that physical activity doesn't have to be strenuous or involve a huge time commitment. The most important thing is that it's done on a regular basis.

Exercise strengthens the pumping force of your heart, increases blood flow to your brain, increases exercise tolerance, reduces body weight, lowers blood pressure, reduces bad cholesterol (both LDL and total), increases good cholesterol (HDL), and increases insulin sensitivity, all of which enhance health and reduce the risk for diseases that can affect brain functioning, such as cardiovascular conditions.

Try walking, jogging, hiking, swimming, cycling, or cross-country skiing. Strength exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, and weight-lifting are also good. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for a healthy brain and body.

Sources:

Brain health. Alzheimer's Association. October 18, 2007. http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_brain_health_maintain_your_brain.asp

Shankle, W. R., & Amen, D. G. 2004 Preventing Alzheimer's: Ways to help prevent, delay, detect, and even halt Alzheimer's disease and other forms of memory loss. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

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