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Can Exercise Reduce the Risk of Dementia?

Dementia is estimated to affect 4.7 million Americans, and as the Baby Boomer generation ages, this number may triple. Some risk factors for developing dementia, such as genetic predispositions and the march of time are out of an individual’s control. However, there is increasing evidence that the risk of developing dementia can be significantly reduced by making certain simple lifestyle changes. As a leading provider of Harrisburg dementia care, we wanted to share some information about these lifestyle changes and how seniors can reduce their risk for memory conditions such as dementia.

In early 2014, the journal Neurobiology of Aging released guidelines on how to prevent dementia. These guidelines were developed at the 2013 International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain, and consist of seven key recommendations. One of the most beneficial recommendations for reducing dementia risk is to engage in aerobic exercise, doing the equivalent of walking briskly for 40 minutes at least three times a week.

A large number of observational studies support this notion, demonstrating that individuals who are active throughout life have a reduced risk of developing dementia in their senior years. These active adults generally have larger, denser brains than sedentary individuals, which can help to preserve memory and cognition with age. Several controlled trials have also shown that just a few weeks of regular exercise can increase the size of brain regions involved in memory.

Additional evidence shows that many cases of dementia appear to be caused by cardiovascular disease creating poor blood circulation in the brain (vascular dementia).  Therefore, anything that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, such as exercise, can help prevent vascular dementia.

Seniors who are concerned about dementia and memory should consider engaging in regular exercise. Simply going for a walk around the block, walking up and down the stairs, or even completing a few extra household chores can help increase heart rate and serve as a physical activity to reduce dementia risk. For seniors who are interested in increasing their daily activity levels, consider help from a professional home caregiver in Harrisburg. Caregivers can provide assistance and encouragement with daily exercise, while ensuring safety and comfort throughout each activity.

For more information about seniors and dementia or dementia care at home, reach out to Harrisburg Home Care Assistance at 717540-4663 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly and knowledgeable Care Manager.