10.27.2005

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
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Another study on the benefits of exercise in avoiding Alzheimer's, this is from Arizona Range News.


Former high school athletes, distance runners, walkers, bikers, and millions of health-conscious middle-age Americans that engage in leisure time physical activity twice a week or more are excited today about the findings of a recent Alzheimer's study.

The study found that aerobic exercise in middle age not only reduces excess weight and helps keep the heart healthy, but it can also cut the risk of being afflicted with Alzheimer's disease in the twilight years of life.

"This is the first study to show this long-term relationship between physical activity and dementia in later life," said Dr. Mila Kivipelto, of the Aging Research Center in London.

Scientists at the Karonlinski Institute in Sweden found that people in mid-life who exercised at least twice a week had about a 60 percent lower risk of suffering from dementia compared to their sedentary counterparts.

To get the full health benefits from exercise, it is important to be involved in an exercise routine that significantly increases your heart rate and improves conditioning levels.

It is open to debate as to whether a slow casual walk along the sidewalks of Willcox will result in reducing the possibility of being afflicted with Alzheimer's in later life.

Interestingly, the biggest impact was for people who had a genetic susceptibility to dementia, according to the study published in The Lancet Neurology Journal. This could explain the tendency of Alzheimer's to run in families.

Alzheimer's is the leading cause of dementia in the elderly. It affects an estimated 12 million people throughout the world. At the present time, there is no cure for the progressive illness that robs people of their memory and cognitive ability. Fortunately, drug treatments can slow down the early progression of the debilitating disease.

Kivipelto and her research team studied the mental health of nearly 1,500 elderly people between the ages of 65-79 whose leisure activities were monitored and recorded from 1972 to 1987.

After re-examining the data in 1998, they discovered that the physically active group with increased breathing and sweat were significantly less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's in old age.

"We found that people who were active during the baby boomer years and worked out at least two times per week had a lower risk of suffering from dementia." Kivipelto said.

As expected, walking and cycling were the most common forms of exercise in the study. The researchers found no link between the amount of exercise and the degree of reduced risk. Evidently, the research team didn't include the duration or intensity of the exercise.

The medical community has yet to ascertain why exercise seems to decrease the risk of cognitive decline. They suspect it could be due to a direct effect on the brain and its messaging system and also by improving blood flow to the brain.

If you are middle-aged and concerned about heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cognitive decline in the twilight years of life, lace up your walking shoes, see your doctor regularly, and eat healthy. You will live longer, be sharper mentally, and live life to its fullest with a little luck.



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