Exercise May Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and Diabetes

Published April 25, 2012

Exercise to Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s, Heart Disease and Diabetes

A new report published in Neurology found that daily physical activity may reduce the risk of mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers studied 716 older individuals without dementia through a device called an actigraph that monitored all their physical activity for 10 days, Web MD reported. They were also given a battery of mental tests annually for 3.5 years to measure memory and thinking ability.

During those years, 71 people developed Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that individuals who were in the bottom 10 percent for daily physical activity were more than twice as likely to develop the disease to those in the top 10 percent, Web MD continued.

This recent report further underlined the importance of engaging in physical activity, such as walking, as people advance in age. Along with lowering the risk for dementia, other research has shown that walking regularly can help cut the risk of heart disease and decrease the chance of developing type 2 diabetes in high-risk adults by 60 percent, the AARP said.

Plus, adding a walking or exercise regimen to one’s daily routine does not have to be an extensive time commitment. The AARP noted that peak benefits come from 30 minutes of exercise several times a week.

Adding an Exercise Routine

Unsure about how to get started? Heather Massimo, director of The Fitness Center at Burke shares these tips for starting an exercise routine.

  • Create a buddy system for exercise with a spouse or friend.  You will keep each other motivated and exercising with others can make time fly. Take your children or grandchildren to the zoo you’ll be working out without even noticing.
  • Let your friends and family know your exercise goals; they will be a good support system.
  • Start with five to 10 minutes of walking in a hallway or around your house.  If you have good balance, you can start by walking to your mailbox and back. Once you feel more comfortable, slowly increase the time or distance every couple of weeks.
  • Get a good pair of walking/running shoes with flexible soles and added cushion.
  • Do a few stretches after a workout. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to start.  This will improve flexibility and range of motion.
  • As you start to build endurance, mix up your routine.  Join a beginner’s fitness class, go for a swim or a bicycle ride. Always try new things. It will shock your body and keep you from becoming bored.
  • Log your daily activity to track your progress. This will help keep you motivated.

You can also learn more about aging and health, and get more exercise tips at fitness fairs, such as the 2012 Senior Health and Fitness Day on May 30 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Burke Rehabilitation Center. The day will be filled with seminars on topics such as nutrition, healthy aging and falls prevention, as well as fitness programs like chair Zumba, stretching and walking, and Pilates.

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