Exercise and Alzheimer’s Prevention - Part 1

Dharma S Khalsa, MD Health Guide
  • The second law of brain longevity reads, "What works for the heart works for the head." That means that there are lifestyle measures which you can do to help your heart and memory as well.


    At this moment in time, there is a lot of stress in our world and stress also affects negatively our general health, mind, mood, and memory. Stress can hurt your heart, causing high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes and, moreover, stress may also lead to memory loss.


    Stress may cause a total disruption in your hormonal system, thus affecting your brain's control center, the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and your adrenal glands. This leads to fatigue, immune system weakness, obesity, and diabetes.

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    Another notably negative effect of stress is that it also produces the death of critically important cells in your brain's memory center, called the hippocampus. When the hippocampus shrinks as a result of less brain cells, this can lead to depression, as well as memory loss.


    I'm a big proponent of regular meditation to lower stress-related cortisol. But, in addition to meditation, regular physical exercise is also very important to keep your stress levels at bay and your hormonal system functioning well.


    Throughout history, it's been generally accepted that physical fitness benefits the mind. In 400 B.C., Plato remarked that a healthy body was necessary for a healthy brain. Thomas Jefferson once said that he believed in exercising 2 hours a day. President Kennedy, in establishing physical goals for America's children, responded to Jefferson's view of exercise by stating, " If the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, was Secretary of State, and  twice President, could  give it two hours a day, our children can give it ten or fifteen minutes."


    When it comes to your mind and memory, it's a good reason to exercise, as well as many important physiological brain functions that are improved. Because of all these wonderful enhancements in anatomy and physiology, cognitive power is maintained. In fact, it's been scientifically proven that physical exercise prevents Alzheimer's disease by fifty-percent (50%). Certainly there is no drug or vitamin supplement that is able to make that claim.


    There have been many research studies that reveal the remarkable effects of participating in a regular exercise program.  Exercise powerfully promotes longevity because it helps prevent the diseases that kill 75% of all Americans: heart disease and cancer. In fact, exercise reduces the incidence of breast cancer by 200%.


    Physical exercise is part of a complete brain enhancement program. And, as you may recall, mental aerobics and mind/body exercise are also important components of keeping your mind alive forever.


    In fact, I firmly believe that a lot of the cognitive decline that we see in people as they age is, in large measure, due to lack of exercise. It makes total sense that the recent research on exercise reveals new data that proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it's good for not only your body, but your mind and memory as well.


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    (Next month we will explore more about this topic as well as how to get started).


Published On: January 28, 2010