A constantly growing body of literature has found that physical exercise has a positive impact on brain ageing. In this article we focus on two of the most prevalent neurodegenerative diseases found in the ageing population – Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.
- A neurological disease characterised by a progressive and gradual reduction in brain functions.
- It is estimated that there are 50 million individuals worldwide living with dementia, this number is growing every single year.
- 1 in 4 hospital beds are occupied by people living with dementia who are over 65.
Whilst there is no proven medication to help those with dementia, there is growing literature to support the theory that physical activity can prove to be extremely beneficial. Specifically, aerobic exercise can help with reducing the risk of dementia and slowing down its progression.
A paper published in the BMJ explains that exercise has a wide variety of positive health benefits relating to the structure and health of the brain. Consistent aerobic or resistance exercise of a minimum of 30 minutes per day can provide long term benefits such as increased neurological activity and improvement in memory and cognitive functions.
- Another neurological disease that has a direct impact on the reduction of motor control, strength and mobility.
- It is common amongst the ageing population with 10 million people living with the disease worldwide.
- Men are 1.5 times more likely to have Parkinson’s disease than women.
Although medication is at the forefront of treatment for the disease, much evidence suggests that exercise can be used as a way of managing or reversing functional decline of those living with Parkinson’s.
Regular physical activity can improve mobility, balance and the muscular strength of those living with the disease. Resistance training and aerobic exercise can help those with Parkinson’s manage their disease.
Exercise is important during all stages of life. As we age we should strive to maintain exercise levels. Regular physical activity in midlife has been shown to lower the chance of developing diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s and generally help you live longer, better.