Physical Activity and Brain Health

It is well known how important it is to keep active for our physical health; however, researchers are now uncovering more far-reaching benefits – namely, a decreased possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease and a slowed rate of cognitive decline in older adults. The reason behind the connection is not clear, but there are two theories under consideration that can explain the link between physical activity and brain health:

  1. Physical activity halts the formation of the plaques and tangles connected with Alzheimer’s, or
  2. It stimulates cognitive resilience, the ability for the brain to continue to work in spite of the brain damage caused by the disease.

A recent study was conducted involving nearly 500 participants from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. The older adults committed, over the course of their lives, to undergo several behavioral, cognitive, and biomedical tests, and to donate brain as well as other tissue after death. Those performing the study focused particularly on the seniors’ last two years of life, measuring motor function, cognition, and daily physical activity.

Scientists analyzed brain tissue from the participants to identify signs of Alzheimer’s, and various other forms of brain disease and damage. Virtually across the board, at least one kind of brain damage or disease was discovered; however, factoring in higher degrees of regular exercise contributed to improved cognitive function – supporting the theory of cognitive resilience countering the effects of neurodegeneration.

Because the research team zeroed in on the participants’ final two years of life, it is unclear whether a lifetime of exercising had an impact on these outcomes, nor does it take into consideration the thought that those with an increased amount of cognitive functioning could have equated to a naturally higher rate of physical exercise. Yet the research provides encouraging data to help further support the benefit of promoting exercise throughout aging.

We’d love to help the older adults you love begin the new year with a renewed focus on increasing physical fitness levels! Our highly trained and knowledgeable caregivers can assist in many ways, including:

  • Providing transportation to the doctor’s office for a physical and approval to start a new workout program
  • Accompanying older adults to exercise classes, swimming, walking, or working out at the gym
  • Inspiring and motivating older adults to keep up increased degrees of physical activity
  • Planning and preparing healthy meals to supply seniors with all the energy needed to stay active
  • And much more!

Get in touch with Hearts at Home In-Home Care, the experts in home health care in Overland Park, KS, at 913-440-4209 to schedule a no-cost in-home assessment and find out how we can help make 2020 the greatest year yet for a senior you love!