Aerobic Exercise can Delay or Reduce Alzheimer’s Disease

senior couple holding hands walking in a parkA study published last week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society links aerobic exercise to improvements in Alzheimer’s disease symptoms.

The study was a meta-analysis that reviewed 19 previous studies on the effect of exercise on Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers found that aerobic exercise, in particular, has a “moderate favorable effect on cognitive function.”

Exercise has always been suggested to improve cognitive function. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 75-150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week for adults over 65, and strength exercises at least twice a week. But the findings in this study indicate that seniors who participated in aerobics alone had three times greater improvement than those who did a mixture of training exercises.

While the study is by no means conclusive, it is clear that aerobic exercises are extremely beneficial.  Often called “cardio,” aerobic exercises increase your heartbeat and respiratory rate. In addition to possibly reducing or delaying Alzheimer’s symptoms, aerobics training has been proven to reduce the chance of developing depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis.

Aerobics can be quite enjoyable: walking, dancing, swimming, and bicycling are all examples of aerobic exercise. You don’t need to learn how to use fancy equipment or cardio machines. The goal is to boost your heartbeat to at least 50% of your maximum heart rate, which the American Heart Association places at about 150 beats per minute for seniors between the ages of 60 and 70.

Walking is the safest and easiest method of aerobic exercise. A brisk walk around Bridgeway’s beautiful courtyard is the perfect start to an aerobics session. There are also seated workouts designed to elevate your heart rate even if you’re confined to a chair or wheelchair.

Keep these safety tips in mind when doing aerobics:

  • Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
  • Make sure your running shoes are supportive and in good shape.
  • Exercise in a safe environment. Stay indoors in extreme weather.
  • Start your session with gentle stretching to warm up, and end with some more stretching to cool down.
  • Avoid over-exercising; a good way to tell you’re overdoing it is if you can’t carry a normal conversation between breaths.

Aerobic exercises are a great way to boost your overall health. Put on some music, invite a friend, and enjoy the benefits to your health, body, and brain function.