Lately exercise has been hailed as the panacea for many disease treatments and prevention. Therefore, I was not surprised to learn of the latest studies claiming that Alzheimer’s patients do better with exercise. Not only is mood enhanced, but fewer colds and infections are contracted and patients are independent longer than those who are sedentary. Exercising recommendations were passed on to caregivers to help them de-stress and cope with their duties in a more relaxed fashion. Energy levels were raised for both groups. Most importantly both were happier.
Exercise helps us to shed stress hormones like cortisol that do a lot of physiological and emotional damage when left unchecked. After just ten minutes of exercise, the body is burning cortisol. In addition, endorphins (mood elevators) are released to make us feel happier and more empowered. Worries seem to dissipate. The benefits keep increasing as the immune system is activated; muscles and bones are strengthened; glucose levels are managed and new movements stimulate the brain. These exercises can be referred to as functional training to promote greater balance and core stability. What is most delightful about exercising in this fashion is that new neural pathways are created in the brain to help compensate for loss.
Particularly useful is strength training which drives oxygen and glucose into the brain. You can use both gym machines or free weights. Attending Silver Sneaker classes, or hiring a trainer with senior certification who will slowly and methodically increase repetitions and weight is necessary to prevent injury and create an individualized program. The advantage of using free weights, like dumbbells, is to provide a greater range of motion beneficial to quality of life activities associated with personal hygiene and housekeeping. Gym machines keep the exerciser in a safe position. I recommend both. For those who cannot stand, workouts can be done seated in a chair and you will be surprised how you can work up a sweat while seated!
The Moral of the story: Learn something new everyday. Nothing deadens the heart and mind like routine.
Turn On Your Inner Light:
Fitness For Body, Mind and Soul
by Debbie Mandel