Exercising to prevent Alzheimer's - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Exercise and Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. But what would you say if we told you there's new hope?

"Alzheimer's disease generates radical decreases in the back half of the brain," explains Dr. Daniel Amen, a neuroscientist. "Recently, we've learned Alzheimer's disease starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before people have any symptoms. And so that's the reason when you're 30 or 40 or 50, you should be really working hard to prevent Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Amen says the best way to do that is to work on the behaviors and illnesses that increase your risk.

"Alcohol abuse doubles the risk for Alzheimer's disease, so stop drinking or drink less. Obesity increases your risk, so maintain a healthy weight. If you have diabetes, that's a disaster for brain function. It's critical to get your blood sugar under control. Untreated depression increases the risk. It doubles the risk in women, and more than quadruples it in men. So if you have problems with depression, it is critical to get it treated," he explains.

Dr. Amen also recommends taking some common supplements, including a multivitamin with a high does of B vitamins, fish oil and optimizing your vitamin D level. 

A final major risk factor is lack of regular exercise.

"You can eliminate that risk factor right now, today, by exercising three times a week," says Dr. Amen. "Include a little weight training, because the amount of lean muscle mass on your body is the number one predictor of longevity. The stronger you are as you age, the less likely you are to get Alzheimer's."

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