Can Increasing Physical Activity Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Physical activity has many health benefits, such as reducing falls, maintaining mobility and independence, and reducing the risk of chronic conditions like depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Based on research to date, there’s not enough evidence to recommend exercise as a way to prevent Alzheimer’s dementia or mild cognitive impairment , a condition of mild memory problems that often leads to Alzheimer’s dementia.
Years of animal and human observational studies suggest the possible benefits of exercise for the brain. Some studies have shown that people who exercise have a lower risk of cognitive decline than those who don’t. Exercise has also been associated with fewer Alzheimer’s plaques and tangles in the brain and better performance on certain cognitive tests.
While clinical trials suggest that exercise may help delay or slow age-related cognitive decline, there is not enough evidence to conclude that it can prevent or slow MCI or Alzheimer’s dementia. One study compared high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as walking or running on a treadmill, to low-intensity stretching and balance exercises in 65 volunteers with MCI and prediabetes. After 6 months, researchers found that the aerobic group had better executive functionthe ability to plan and organizethan the stretching/balance group, but not better short-term memory.
Start A Game Group At Minneapolis Cherrywood Pointe
Participating in a game is more fun with other people, and at the Cherrywood Pointe locations in Minneapolis and the surrounding areas, there is a large pool of competition to take on. If you have a loved one in Minneapolis who is facing challenges with dementia, its important to provide them with a living environment that keeps their mind active. Communicate to them in a way your loved one will understand, and encourage them to show their competitive side! Not only is life at Cherrywood Pointe easier for those with dementia, but it also provides new opportunities for mental stimulation.Get in touch with our Minneapolis-based team to learn more about life at Cherrywood Pointe keeps our residents engaged every day.
Brain Games: Seven Ways To Sharpen Your Memory By Mayo Clinic
Our digital devices drive most of our everyday activities. If you work at a desk, then you could be staring at a computer screen all day. If you dont, then chances are your eyes are looking at your smart phone. Whether texting, posting, playing, or searching, or just watching TV, you are likely staring at a screen for multiple hours during the day.
Sure, you’re informed and up to date, but guess what? Your brain and your eyes are tired.
Studies now suggest that the artificial light from digital screens can hurt your health, especially when you use devices at night. It disrupts sleep, strains your eyes, and can even alter your cognitive function.1
Give your eyes and brain a break. Put down the smart phone or tablet at bedtime and as often as you can during the day and you will likely get more sleep, and better sleep, and be on your way to feeling more alert and refreshed.
Want to wake up your brain even more? Brain aerobics engaging activities that involve at least two senses and offer a break from everyday tasks will help your mind and memory thrive as you grow older.
In fact, research suggests that mentally stimulating activities like reading, puzzles, and board games can cut your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.2,3
Tech-free ways to boost brainpower
1. Do a crossword puzzle
The study found that adults who did crossword puzzles shaved up to a decade off their actual brain age when it came to cognitive function.
2. Join a book club
4. Be mindful
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Learn Something New Every Day
Get out of your regular routine; try something new. It can challenge your mind and stimulate brain stem growth.
Its never too soon to start. Researchers note that a lifetime of engaging in these cognitively stimulating activities can enhance brain health and help defer the risk of Alzheimers. If you remain curious about life and continue to learn new things, your brain will remain active and challenged. As the old adage goes: if you dont use it, you lose it.
Start A Jigsaw Puzzle
Whether theyre easy or complicated, jigsaw puzzles tap into many visual-spatial working memory skillsseeing and remembering which pieces fit into similarly shaped spacessays Dr. Tan. To that end, a 2018 study in Frontiers of Aging Neuroscience showed that working on jigsaw puzzles engages multiple cognitive abilities.
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Can You Improve Your Memory With Brain Games
We’d all like to be able to pull out our iPhones, play a game for a few minutes, and improve our brain performance. But is that realistic? Can you improve your memory by playing Sudoku or daily crosswords? The answer is yes, according to the billion-dollar brain-training industry, but research is mixed. Studies evaluating the benefits of brain games and puzzles on memory suggest there may be some varying benefit according to age and the exercises being used.
Do Brain Games Help Prevent Alzheimer’s
Q: Is it true that number games like Sudoku and KenKen help protect the brainand even stave off Alzheimers disease?
A: Possibly. Age and genetics are the main determinants of a persons risk of developing Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. Lifestyle factors such as a poor diet and lack of exercise may also play a role. But a recent study of 294 adults 55 and older in the journal Neurology suggested that more frequent cognitive activity across a lifespan may help slow cognitive decline even in people whose brains show signs of dementia. Mentally stimulating activities may improve the connections between brain cells and even help generate new nerve cells. Such stimulation can come from games like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess, or from hobbies as diverse as reading, learning a new language, attending lectures, quilting, gardening, or volunteering.
Pillar #: Regular Exercise
According to the Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease by up to 50 percent. Whats more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimers and other types of dementia by stimulating the brains ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones.
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. The ideal plan involves a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Good activities for beginners include walking and swimming.
Build muscle to pump up your brain. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training not only increase muscle mass, they help you maintain brain health. For those over 65, adding 2-3 strength sessions to your weekly routine may cut your risk of Alzheimers in half.
Include balance and coordination exercises. Head injuries from falls are an increasing risk as you age, which in turn increase your risk for Alzheimers disease and dementia. As well as protecting your head when you exercise , balance and coordination exercises can help you stay agile and avoid spills. Try yoga, Tai Chi, or exercises using balance balls.
How To Get A Quality Sleep
Reinforce circadian rhythms by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Your brain will respond to regularity.
If you find that you need to nap in the daytime, it can also affect your night time sleep. So, if you need an energising afternoon nap, set a timer for 30 minutes.
Ideally dont use a computer, tablet or your phone in the bedroom or for at least 2 hours before bedtime. Use of these can excite the brain, preventing sleep.
Snoring can prevent a good nights sleep. If you have sleep apnea, then it can be potentially dangerous due to interrupted breathing. See your doctor for advice.
If you have difficulty in falling to sleep, dont lie in bed tossing, turning and worrying about sleep; get up make a camomile tea or read an unexciting book.
Have a bedtime ritual. Take a relaxing bath, do some simple stretches, dim the lights. This will signal the brain that it is time for some quality sleep.
Clear your mind of the day by writing a page in your journal. Make to-do lists as this will help you to drop off to sleep without worrying.
Stress, anxiety or negative internal dialogues can prevent sleep. Read or relax in another room. Try a milky drink or turkey sandwich to help aid sleep.
New studies have highlighted that poor sleep is not a symptom of Dementia it, it is a possible risk factor. Advice is that if you are affected by poor sleep patterns, you should seek medical advice. Most adults need 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
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Targets Of Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention Research
Researchers are exploring these and other interventions that may help prevent, delay, or slow Alzheimer’s dementia or age-related cognitive decline. Other research targets include:
- New drugs to delay onset or slow disease progression
- Diabetes treatment
- Blood pressure- and lipid-lowering treatments
- Sleep interventions
- Vitamins such as B12 plus folic acid supplements and D
- Combined physical and mental exercises
Control Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension or high blood pressure is strongly associated with an increased risk of dementia. High blood pressure can damage tiny blood vessels in the parts of the brain responsible for cognition and memory. The latest American Heart Association guidelines class blood pressure readings of 130/80 mm Hg and above as the start of high blood pressure.
Check your blood pressure at home. A study in the Netherlands found that a large variation in blood pressure readings over a period of years was associated with an increased risk of dementia. Inexpensive monitors that wrap around your upper arm can help you keep track of your blood pressure throughout the day and pick up on any variations. Some devices even send the results to your phone so you can easily track your readings or share them with your doctor.
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The Importance Of Brain Games For Adults
Studies demonstrate that card games, puzzles, and board games are good mental stimuli and help promote brain health. This is especially true for older adults. Games also stimulate the immune system and can trigger the use of visualization, memory and sequencing skills.
Many games also involve socialization and verbal interaction. We know that games can also help mitigate boredom and depression, both of which can cause cognitive decline. They can be fun activities that involve family and friends. This social dynamic also helps keep the brain active and engaged.
Can Eating Certain Foods Or Diets Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
People often wonder if a certain diet or specific foods can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. The recent NASEM review of research did not find enough evidence to recommend a certain diet to prevent cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s. However, certain diets and healthy eating patterns have been associated with cognitive benefits. Studies of diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the MIND dieta combination of the Mediterranean and DASH dietsare underway. Learn more about what we know about diet and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information, read What Do We Know About Diet and Alzheimer’s Prevention?
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Different Generations Different Results
The cognitive advantage of puzzles and other similar educational games in young children is well documented. Research in developmental psychology has demonstrated a significant and reproducible advantage in memory, overall cognitive skills, and spatial skills in children who play with puzzles between the ages of 2 and 4 years old.
This benefit is more difficult to demonstrate in adults. The MacArthur Study, one of the most well-known longitudinal aging studies, tracked healthy, middle-aged men and women into their 80s. Researchers identified those whose mental abilities ranked in the top third, tracked them for a decade, and pinpointed factors that distinguished them from the others in their age group. What they found was that this group was more physically and mentally active doing daily crossword puzzles, reading avidly, and playing bridge.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Neuroscience looked at the effect of brain-training games on cognitive performance in adults. In contrast to the MacArthur findings, subjects who engaged in brain games did not experience a significant improvement in memory compared to the control group.
Many Older Adults Enjoy Brain Games Like Crosswords Chess And Computer Games But Can They Help Improve Memory
If you are like many adults, you enjoy a good crossword, a weekly card game, or even the latest addictive phone app game. You probably even relish the mental boost they provide.
But do these types of brain games help with brain health, especially for protecting against memory loss? Well, it’s complicated.
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- Research health conditions
- Prepare for a doctor’s visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
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Benefits Of Brain Games For Aging Adults
Working at brain-challenging exercises wont reduce your risk of Alzheimers disease or other kinds of dementia, nor will it reduce progression rates of these diseases, says Zaldy Tan, M.D., director of the Cedars-Sinai Memory and Aging Program and medical director of the Jona Goldrich Center for Alzheimers and Memory Disorders at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
But they do provide significant benefits and can make your life better, he says.
What Are The Claims About Brain Training And Reducing Dementia Risk
Many people engage in brain training in the hope that keeping their brains active will maintain or improve their cognitive abilities as they get older.
The idea of brain training is based on the concept of ‘use it or lose it’. The popular theory goes that the more you regularly challenge your brain the less likely you are to experience cognitive impairment or dementia in your later years.
The theory is based on an observation made by some that people who have complex jobs or who regularly participate in activities such as crosswords, puzzles or learning new hobbies throughout life appear to have lower rates of dementia.
Computer-based brain training games have been developed that challenge brain functions such as memory, problem solving and reasoning, abilities that can slow down or worsen with age.
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Play An Online Brain Game
Luminosity, Cognifit, Sharpbrains, BrainHQ and others provide free brain games dailyand many more for people willing to pay for a subscriptionthat challenge memory, attention and concentration skills. Does playing these games lead to long-term cognition improvement? Its not known for certain, but they are engaging and fun. These word, number, speed, math, problem-solving and shape games often have time limits, which escalate the challenge, along with colorful graphics and cheerful bloops and bleeps .
Video games can be beneficial as well. Video games can be great, particularly because so many start out at an easy level and become more challenging with practice, and are essentially cognitive training, says Dr. Park.
How Does Brain Activity Help
Studies of animals show that keeping the mind active may:
- Reduce the amount of brain cell damage that happens with Alzheimer’s
- Support the growth of new nerve cells
- Prompt nerve cells to send messages to each other
When you keep your brain active with exercises or other tasks, you may help build up a reserve supply of brain cells and links between them. You might even grow new brain cells. This may be one reason scientists have seen a link between Alzheimer’s and lower levels of education. Experts think the extra mental activity from education may protect the brain by strengthening connections between its cells.
Neither education nor brain exercises are a sure way to prevent Alzheimer’s. But they may help delay symptoms and keep the mind working better for longer.
Williams, J. Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline, Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments No. 193, April 2010.
NIH News: “Mental Exercise Helps Maintain Some Seniors’ Thinking Skills.”
Wilson, R. Neurology, September 2010.
Meng, X. PLoS One, 2012.
Alzheimer’s Foundation: “Prevention,” “Stay Mentally Active.”
AARP: “Age-Proof Your Brain.”
Maillot, P. , March 2012.
Smith, G., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., Ruff, R., Kennison, R., Mahncke, H., Zelinski, E., A cognitive Training Program based on Principles of Brain Plasticity: Results from the Improvement in memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training Study, Feb. 2009
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Tips For Starting And Sticking With An Exercise Plan
If youve been inactive for a while, starting an exercise program can be intimidating. But remember: a little exercise is better than none. In fact, adding just modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your health.
Choose activities you enjoy and start smalla 10-minute walk a few times a day, for exampleand allow yourself to gradually build up your momentum and self-confidence.;