If I told you there is something you all can do that will have an positive effect on your brain, that would help your improve mood and overall well-being AND possibly be protective against diseases like Alzheimer’s disease- would you believe me and secondly would you do it?
I’d like to think you’d say yes to both! These are some of the many positive benefits of EXERCISE.
Exercise physically changes your brain and the more you exercise the stronger those positive changes become. After you exercise, the levels of serotonin and dopamine increase in your brain- this is one reason why you feel amazing after you exercise- it releases those feel good neurotransmitters. Exercise also stimulates the production of a protein called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor or BDNF for short. This amazing protein helps you to form stronger neural connections.
While you cannot 100% protect yourself from developing dementia, by exercising you can build a stronger brain, with a bigger hippocampus and prefrontal cortex (as these two brain areas are really vulnerable to age related cognitive decline *see the next topic for an very interesting study)- and in doing this you might be able to halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease or delay it’s onset- although the jury is still out on this.
A recently published large scale study called HUNT had 28, 916 participants aged 30–60 years. The study further strengthens previous research in the area as it showed that at least weekly midlife moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with reduced dementia risk over a 25-year period of follow-up (Livingston et al., 2020).
How much exercise do I need?
The experts recommend we all do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. So grab those walking shoes and lets get that heart rate UP!
Evidence about the effect of specific types of exercise, such as progressive muscle resistance training on dementia risk is sparse (Livingston et al., 2020).