The name Alzheimer is frightening, mysterious and daunting. Irrespective of all the research that is going on for years together, there are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, which afflicts a big percentage of a population across the globe.
You do not have dementia because you forgot an item on your grocery list. Everyone has occasional memory lapses, which increase with age. If these lapses are very frequent and interfere with safe day to day functioning then you need to be alert. Diagnosing it requires a series of cognitive and memory tests. The cause is still unknown to a large extent, but in 5% cases, it is linked to specific rare gene mutations.
We are all aware of the benefits of regular exercise. Exercise is one of the best gifts that we can give ourselves early in life, but in old age, it is of utmost importance as it could keep the mind young. There is increasing evidence now that fitter people have bigger brains and better memories. It is also coming into light that fitness can trigger the growth of new cells in the brain’s memory hub. It is something that can keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Hippocampus in the brain’s memory hub is one of the first areas to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s. Till now, doctors were of the opinion that exercise is good for heart and muscles, but now research has led them to conclude ‘what is good for heart is good for head too.’
In a special edition of journal NeuroImage, it has been quoted that exercise boosts the brain as well as the body. It includes a study from the University of Kentucky in the US. Thirty men and women, who were in their 50s and 60s, were studied putting them through brain scans and heart and lung tests while running on a treadmill. Those who were fitter had better blood flow to the brain.
It has been revealed that anything that boosts the size of hippocampus helps in preventing Alzheimer’s. It can be as simple as a brisk walk. Professor Linda Clare, an Exeter University expert in ageing and dementia said – “Walking, running and cycling can all give the brain the boost it needs to stay healthy for longer.”