Dementia is on the rise and will affect 1.1 million Canadians in the next 25 years.
Dementia is the loss of brain function. It affects memory, thinking, language judgment and behaviour. Although it’s very common in seniors, dementia isn’t a normal part of aging.
Recently the World Health Organization estimated that 35.6 million people are living with dementia today. With a new case being diagnosed every four seconds around the world, that number is expected to double by the year 2030.
A new study has found that keeping active may help protect the brain against dementia. Seniors who were most active were less likely to develop dementia compared to those seniors who were less active. Exercise has been found to significantly increase both mental activity and stability by boosting neuron function in the brain, while decreasing depression and behavioural problems.
Enhanced neuron function means better communication within the brain, causing improvement of symptoms such as confusion, memory loss and comprehension. Specific balance and flexibility training helps to improve mobility by increasing range of motion, which creates independence, which in turn increases quality of life. Improving standing and sitting balance reduces the risk of falls and fractures.
People who exercise regularly are known to have higher levels of cognitive function than sedentary people. Exercise programs for seniors should focus on building endurance, muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Regular physical activity helps to reduce the severity of the symptoms of dementia, even with the progression of the disease.
Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health throughout the body, including the brain. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity can improve cognitive function by decreasing disruption between the neurons.
Strength training helps combat the muscle loss associated with aging. By increasing muscle mass, daily tasks such as getting out of a chair or climbing a flight of stairs becomes easier, allowing for more independence.
When learning a new exercise program always check with your doctor and enlist the help of a professional such as a personal trainer or physiotherapist to prevent injury.
Want to learn more? Visit me at www.felycesfitness.ca.