It starts slowly, and worsens over time. No known treatments can stop or reverse its progression. And more likely than not, you know someone who’s been affected.
This month we’re thinking about Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It effects 29.8 million people worldwide.
Despite decades of research its cause is still unknown, though doctors believe genetic and environmental risk factors could be at play.
But there has been a positive breakthrough: new research found a link between exercise and brain health.
In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Dr. Ozioma Okonkwo and Ryan Dougherty from UW School of Medicine and Public Health discovered that people at risk for Alzheimer’s who do moderate-intensity physical activity are more likely to have healthy patterns of glucose metabolism in certain areas of their brains. Those patterns are generally a sign that the brain is active, healthy, and functioning.
Writes Time Magazine:
To illuminate the relationship between brain activity and exercise levels, everyone wore an accelerometer for a week to measure their daily physical activity and received PET scans to measure glucose metabolism, which reveals neuron health and activity, in several regions of the brain. For people with Alzheimer’s disease, these regions tend to have depressed glucose metabolism.
Researchers found that people who spent at least 68 minutes a day engaged in physical activity at a moderate level—the equivalent of a brisk walk—had better glucose metabolism in all of those regions than those who spent less time doing so.
By contract, time spent being sedentary or doing low-intensity physical activity, such as slow walking, does not show the same brain patterns.
We already know that just 15-20 minutes per day of moderate exercise can change body composition and overall health, and personal wellness without much effort. Other recent research has shown that small bursts of intense exercise—even just taking the stairs or taking a break to lift handweights—can add years to your life.
The troubling fact is that only 23% of American’s get enough exercise regularly. However, those who do, tend to live longer in general, and even live longer than people that are younger than them as well.
For corporate wellness programs that are focused on health outcomes or are designed for middle-aged populations, this research could be a valuable selling point about the benefits of working out regularly.
Schedule a call with an IncentFit specialist to discuss ways to encourage your older employees to focus on their personal health.