Mad not to exercise
I know that going to the gym is good for me. Physically, it stops my bum and other bits from migrating south (or at the very least, slows down this process); mentally it keeps emotional fragility at bay. And yet sometimes, especially in the winter months when it’s dark, freezing and wet, and I’d much rather stay at home curled up on the couch with iView than strengthen my core in a Pilates class, these incentives simply aren’t enough.
So it’s just as well I’ve stumbled on yet another excellent reason to exercise, which I’ll be sure to recall the next time I’ve committed to a work-out but feel myself on the verge of reneging.
In this radio interview, Dr Ron Peterson, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the USA, extols the benefits of aerobic exercise, which is to say any exercise that gets the heart pumping, specifically in relation to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and maybe cognitive impairment itself.
According to Peterson, whose team reviewed the entire literature on the subject, there’s increasing evidence that if one exercises 150 minutes a week – 50 minutes three times a week or 30 times five times a week (and brisk walking alone will suffice!) – this will reduce the risk of cognitive decline for a period of up to 18 months.
There are various theories as to why this is. One is that moving the body increases blood flow to the brain and the heart. Another is that exercise may trigger the production of enzymes that actually rid amyloid from the brain. Amyloid gets deposited in the brain, destroys surrounding brain cells and is thought to be a major culprit in these degenerative brain disorders.
You can hear more on this subject at Mind & Its Potential in October when Dr Helena Popovic, medical doctor, researcher and specialist on how to improve brain function shares her experience of becoming her father’s carer when he’s diagnosed with dementia.