Proven time and time again: The one sure-fire way to ward off Alzheimer’s 37



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It’s one of our biggest fears: all of our memories slowly fading away until we become a shell of who we used to be. You hear of all these ways you can prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but is there one sure-fire way that can really put you in the best possible position to ward off cognitive decline?

According to the latest research, combined with what we already know, the most important thing you can do for your brain is exercise your body and mind. But the latest way to do that is crucial as well, say Gareth Howell, PhD, and his colleagues at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine in new research published in PLOS Biology.

They found that structural changes that make the blood-brain barrier leaky, causing inflammation of brain tissues in old mice, can be reduced by allowing the animals to run regularly.

Investigation began on changes in young and old mice, where their gene profiles were compared in highly complex ways. The team found age-related changes to genes can have an impact on vascular function and cause inflammation in the brain cortex.

So is it possible to slow down this process? To see how long-term physical exercise can impact on our brains, the researchers provided mice with a running wheel from 12 months old – equivalent to middle age in humans. They assessed their brains at 18 months, equivalent to around 60 years in humans, the age at which the risk of Alzheimer’s increases.

Both young and old mice ran about 3km each night and this physical activity improved the ability and motivation of the older mice to do things their peers could not, such as have more spontaneity in their movement and thinking.

They concluded that aerobic exercise from middle to older age appears to preserve cerebrovascular health, prevent behavioural deficits and reduce age-related neuroinflammation in the cortex and hippocampus in aged mice.

“As a society we need to work hard to ensure we maintain an active lifestyle wherever possible. In this day and age, with so many distractions and conveniences, it is easy to fall into a lifestyle that does not include enough exercise. With an ageing population, I hope our study helps in encouraging a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise”, said Dr Howell.

While the risk of dementia increases with age and you can’t slow that down, it’s clear that the more you can do to help yourself avoid this terrible disease, the better.

What lifestyle changes will you make?

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  1. That’s a big call to say that aerobic exercise is a sure fire way to ward of Alzheimers. My mother recently passed with dementia (Lewy Bodies and Parkinsons) She was a hugely fit and active lady until her early 80’s when the dementia kicked in. Living on a large acerage shewas always doing physical work, aerobic work. Still succumbed to the most heartbreaking of diseases.

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    • My father had dementia Robyn & he swam & excersized most mornings. The grandkids used to join in …. Didn’t stop him getting dementia. My mother never smoked or drank alcohol, didn’t stop her getting cancer!!!

    • I must say ladies, when my mother died I became very frightened that I had dementia too. I couldn’t remember phone numbers I’d known for years. People I should have known , I had to ask my husband later “What’s her name again. Where do I know her from?” I was terrified I had it and I took the exercising advice and joined a gym. I couldn’t walk more than a few minutes on the treadmill but the gym owner was so very helpful and said walk as long as you can then stop the machine and stay there till you can walk a bit more. I did that 6 days a week along with other exercise machines, increasing weights a little bit at a time. After a couple of months I actually walked on the treadmill at a good walking pace for ONE HOUR. As I walked, my memory came flooding back. Phone numbers, people’s names, songs. All the stuff I’d struggled with came back. It was as though a fog had been lifted and I was alive again.

    • I think what’s genetically predestined will happen but people feel better thinking they can do something to help themselves. Plus exercise is proclaimed to help your overall health.

    • I would give my mother a cup of tea. She’d say thanks and have some. Put the cup down and forget about it. Then I’d say “Do you want another cup of tea Mum” She’d look down and say “No thanks, I’ve still got some” and then she’d drink again. She knew everything around her but the trigger to instigate anything was missing.

    • Had to share a little story with you girls re my dad that had dementia . My mum used to let my dad drive the car out of the garage & clean it etc, to keep him busy. I was against it, & she assured me it was fine. Then I got a call from her to come over quickly, as he had driven off on the car!! She was in tears & worried sick out the front of the house when I got there. About a half hour later he turned up. He was happy as, big smile on his face until he looked at my mother. She went from worry to anger & he saw it!!! I asked him where he’d been & his answer was “oh I’ve been up there & down here, you know the one”. He never got the keys again & thankfully no one was hurt, still don’t know where he went, yet that bit of freedom was in his smile!! I often think of that day, as he had me smiling with him. He progressively got worse, the most dreadful disease!!!!

    • Marianne Vaughan beautiful story. As mum progressed the funny times grew fewer and further between, but they were still there. Sometimes we would giggle like schoolgirls and she’d laugh until tears ran down her cheeks. Precious special moments which is how I remeber her now. She’s only been gone a few months and I was blessed to be holding her hand as she passed but the memories of her last days are fading already and I now see her more as she was, when her body and her mind had not failed her.

    • Marianne Vaughan Lovely Marianne. My mother would have windows of absolute clarity. Didn’t happen a lot but it was the reason Dad wouldn’t ever have her put in a home. Perhaps your father had one of those windows when he drove off in the car.

  2. My mother and mother-in-law were opposites. Mum was a traditional housewife – spent time sewing, knitting, crochet, cooking. Her activities were basically sedentary. She had dementia which came on slowly probably from her late sixties. She died from cancer at 75, Wonderful MIL was out and about. Played tennis, did heavy gardening, went line dancing and in general was happy out of the house and very active. She had Alzheimer’s which came on slowly probably from her late sixties. This formally active, funny, brilliant woman died at 86 after 12 of the most dreadful years anybody could have. The only thing these two women had in common was STRESS.

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  3. Eat healthy and be physically active. Enjoy your life. That is the most anyone can do. The rest is in the hands of God.

  4. I am not going to stress out about what may or may not happen, I am just going to enjoy life while I am living because I will be a long time dead

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