Fighting Alzheimer’s with activity
By LISA KELLER
Executive director, Morning Pointe of Danville
Summer is here, the pools are open and while everyone has their mind on creating a better beach body, some 40 million seniors in the United States are likely thinking about their mental fitness through the golden years. Staying active and healthy has shown positive effects in helping ward off your concerns about cognition. And with age and heredity beyond our control, experts are looking to lifestyle factors such as wellness to help guide us toward answers about Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss.
You already know about brain games and puzzles. Those are helpful, too! But there are other ways we can stimulate our noggins while using the greatest machine given to each of us — our bodies.
Wellness isn’t just about taking care of what’s on the outside, but maintaining what’s on the inside, too —namely our mental health. So while planning your next group exercise session, build muscle and a strong mind by considering these tips:
The Body-Mind Link: Approaching Health Holistically
Exercise doesn’t have to be a mindless activity. Creating goals and keeping track of your progress can be a way to maintain mental vigor as well. When it comes to staying in motion, add coordination-based activities like T’ai Chi to your fitness routine to maintain a balanced body while working your brain. Endurance activities, like dancing and running, raise your heart rate and help improve blood circulation. But this doesn’t just help maintain a healthy weight. The National Institutes of Aging states this increase in blood flow can help the brain form new network connections. This helps to slow and/or delay cognitive problems you could experience down the line.
Flexing Your Friendship Muscle — Why Seniors Should Stay Social
Staying fit in the comfort of your own home is great for those who want to stay in shape in a safe environment. But you could miss the many benefits of social interaction from going to a gym or wellness center. Alzheimer’s Association suggests this social engagement has been shown to help ward off dementia for older adults. On your way to group aerobics class, you’ll have the opportunity to make friends and see familiar faces. You’ll also learn to embrace encouragement and advice from classmates and other gym members. In addition, you can connect with a trainer or other wellness professional who can help you achieve your goals. All of this brings about positive mental activity that you’ll forgo if you choose to stay at home.
Get Fit for the Fight Against Alzheimer’s
Don’t just get physically active to fight Alzheimer’s. Take action in your community during a local walk. The Alzheimer’s Association’s website is a helpful resource about local events — such as 5k walks, volunteer opportunities and fundraising events — to help spread awareness about this very important cause. Every year on June 21 — the longest day — people across the nation are doing what they love to fight against Alzheimer’s. This is a powerful motivator for many of us whose lives have been touched by this disease. I hope that this cause motivates you to do what you love. Perhaps you may do it for someone you love. But I hope you take action against Alzheimer’s disease for you, too!