June is Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 11.3% of people age 65 and older have Alzheimer's disease, a degenerative condition that impacts memory and thinking skills.
In 2021, Alzheimer's and other dementias will cost our nation $355 billion. And these numbers are expected to increase every year.
Research shows that an active lifestyle helps decrease risk. A study recently published, in the Journal of Gerontology, Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, found that an indigenous group of people, Tsimane, in South America have a slower rate of brain aging even with high levels of inflammation (typically infections – gastrointestinal, respiratory, and parasitic). After brain scans on 746 people in middle and old age (40 – 94), researchers found that their brain volume is 70% smaller than Westerners (the US and Europe). The researchers attribute this to their active lifestyle (farming, fishing).
According to Mayo Clinic, exercise keeps the blood flowing through the brain and helps produce more BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which helps keep brain cells healthy. Aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, biking are great activities. In my research, the amount of time varied from 20 minutes to 40 minutes at least three times per week.
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