How does exercise work to help prevent dementia?
As aging occurs the brain begins to shrink, specifically the hippocampus. The hippocampus is the area of the brain involved with memory function.
Exercising helps to increase the size of the hippocampus. Not only does exercise work to slow brain shrinkage; it also aids in:
- lowering high blood pressure
- promoting blood vessel flexibility (to maintain blood flow to the brain)
- creating new neurons (for the transmission of nerve impulses)
- enhancing mental capability
- reducing stress.
Aerobic / high intensity exercise also increases levels of the brain protein that works to repair and protect the brain.
Strength training is important too. It:
- improves mental skills and cognitive function
- develops muscle mass for improved bone density, balance, resting metabolic rate (bigger muscles burn more calories).