Brain Training – Tackling Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease through Exercise

Our brains are amazing things!

They control our movement, thoughts and body regulation every second of each day.

However what’s is becoming more common now is the declining brain health from Dementia and Alzheiemr’s Disease.

These diseases disrupt our normal patterns of daily life and hold our brain hostage.

But like any muscle or skill you develop over your lifetime, our brain has the ability to do the same through exercise! 

Dementia – including Alzheimer’s Disease – is currently the second highest leading cause of death in Australia (ABS, 2021). Often associated with this disease are losses of memory, a reduced comprehension of social awareness and interpretation and general irritability. 

As we age, there is a greater risk of developing Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, with your risk doubling every 5 years after the age of 65 (AA, 2021). 

The leading causes of Dementia are often other chronic conditions throughout early to later life, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and stroke – which further escalates the importance of exercise throughout life! 

Currently there is no cure for this disease, however there is plenty of evidence to support exercise as a means to reduce symptoms and severity of the disease, as well as the rate of decline. That’s where we come in! 

Why exercise NEEDS to be part of the care taking process

There are a tonne of benefits which exercise can provide. If there was a pill that could do this then every single patient would be on it straight away!

Increased cognitive functioning

Our body and brain thrive off blood flow. As you exercise, blood flows to all regions of the body – including the brain. Increased blood flow can greatly increase vascular health, cognition, brain activity and reduce brain atrophy – a shrinking of the brain size associated with Dementia. 

Increased social participation

Exercising in a group is a great way to interact with other people. Maintaining relationships and social participation has been shown to slow the rate of decline.

Increased Brain-Body connection

Every movement required in an exercise session requires our brains to tell our body what to do. Our body also gives feedback to our brain. In this way we are not also working our muscles but also our brain and neurological system.

Increased physical capacity and reduced falls risk

If our mind is declining it is important to ensure our body stays as strong as possible to reduce risks of falls etc. Like our brain, our muscle function from exercise. This can increase our muscle mass, function and strength. 

Reduce the risks of further chronic conditions

Exercise can support the overall health of the individual and prevent further chronic complications. 

Improved Quality of Life 

ANY form of exercise has shown increases in quality of life. These aspects include self care, independence, daily activities, leisure and family time. 

Final Word 

Although exercise may not be possible at the later stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, keeping physical movement a daily routine should still be essential when caring for someone with the disease. Although not a cure, exercise will slow down the progression and allow you to live life at your best. Let us help you today by starting the exercise and health journey again. If you have a family member or loved one who would benefit from exercise physiology, get in touch with our team today or consult with your doctor.  

Alex Josipovic

Exercise Physiologist

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