Early, Physical Signs of Dementia Indicate Benefits of Being Physically Active

Brain Games, Mental Fitness, Motivational, Tough Love!

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We’re all familiar with the first signs of dementia: Memory loss and confusion. Sadly, when they begin to show up, the onset of dementia is underway. New research suggests that there are earlier…. physical signs that may signal trouble.

These findings, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest a link between the brain’s health and physical fitness. In a study involving more than 2,200 adults (aged 65 and older), difficulty walking and balance problems were early indicators of future dementia. Oddly enough, having a poor handgrip was another, later, sign of developing dementia.

“Maybe this will be another motivator to either keep people active or motivate them to become active if they’re not,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Eric B. Larson, director of the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle.

As experts point out, today most cases of dementia are caught after the disease has greatly progressed. The sooner dementia can be diagnosed, the more can be done to, hopefully, avert its course or (at least) lessen its damage.

Dementia’s path can cover a lot of ground. Some people experience trouble finding the right words when speaking while others find their abilities to perform certain tasks, such as preparing a meal, next to impossible. Alzheimer’s disease is actually a type of dementia (the most common type), affects an estimated 4.5 million Americans.

Experts tell us that people who exercise are less likely to get dementia. Some argue that this could mean that people who exercise are simply “different” in other ways than those who don’t.

Personally? The proven benefits of exercise are more than enough reason to become as physically active as possible. If there’s even the possibility that our brains will benefit as much as our bodies, I’d say we should, literally, jump at the opportunity! Besides, I believe exercise DOES have a huge impact on our minds. After all, when we exercise, we increase the amount of oxygen that goes to all of our body – that can only be good, right?!

Okay, let’s make up our minds to start getting more exercise – starting today! If we make it a point to be more physically active everyday for the rest of our lives, we’ll be setting ourselves up for success.

Simply adding more steps to your daily life will add up a lot more than you may realize. If you, daily, incorporate the following suggestions into your routine(s), you’ll increase your activity level and reap the benefits:

  • Park further from the front door when you go to the store.
  • Once inside the store, take the longest possible route to reach your destination.
  • When putting away laundry, don’t take a stack to each room. Instead, take one item at a time.  Be obnoxious about it!  If you can stretch the chore to 15 minutes or more, you’ve accomplished a lot more steps than you normally would have.
  • After each meal, make a habit of taking a 10 minute walk around your yard.  If you have outdoor pets, they’ll start looking forward to these visits.  You’ll notice them watching the door for you.  It’s always nice to be wanted, right?!

Tackle extra activity in 10 minute chunks if necessary.  Taking three 10 minute activity breaks during the day will bring about the same benefits as one 30 minute activity break. 

The trick is to DAILY set your sights on more steps, more action, more movement.  Move your body as though your life depends upon it.  I know I don’t have to tell you this, but it does.

Make each step count double!

~ Joi

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