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The Relationship Between Physical Activity And The Prevention, Delayed Onset And Slowed Progression Of Dementia

1118 words - 5 pages

In recent years, dementia has become a major health problem worldwide due to the aging population, however according to current research, being physically active may have a positive impact in reducing the risk of dementia and slowing the associated cognitive decline (Laurin et al. 2001). The term dementia is used to describe over a hundred different diseases which are characterised by a progressive loss of brain function which may affect cognitive skills, language as well as memory and perception (Mechling 2008). Throughout aging only a small number of neurons and synapses diminish and this is a normal process, however, with dementia this effect is much more drastic (Farrow & Ellis 2013). ...view middle of the document...

It has been stated that genetics and other non-modifiable risk factors have an undeniable influence on whether a person will develop dementia, but physical activity or inactivity has surfaced as a modifiable risk factor for dementia (Farrow & Ellis 2013). The word modifiable is defined by the Merriam-Webster (2014) online dictionary as being “capable of being readily changed”, thus meaning one can change the amount frequency, intensity and duration of their physical activity quite easily. In a study by Hamer & Chida (2008), they observed that being physically active as an adult in midlife can be a defensive factor against the risk of dementia in the later stages of life. Other research has noted that being physically active at any stage or age in life can aid in the prevention of dementia (Farrow & Ellis 2013). Therefore, one could conclude that being physically active throughout your entire life can affect your cognitive health as you age. To add research by Wang et al. (2006) found that higher levels of physical activity throughout one’s life may be correlated to a delayed onset of dementia or more specifically Alzheimer’s disease, while on the other hand one with lower levels of physical function have an increased risk and/or faster onset of dementia. As the research strongly states it has been proven that being physical active may be an essential protective factor against dementia, but how exactly is physical activity a defensive factor against dementia?
Secondly, it has been determined that physical activity increases the amount of blood flow to the brain which in turn supplies the brain with the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function favourably, this aids in creating new cells and new connections or dendrites, this process is also known as brain plasticity (Farrow & Ellis 2013). In a paper by Ahlskog et al. (2011), it is suggested that physical activity and specifically aerobic exercise (e.g., running) is beneficial in the prevention or delayed onset of dementia. They found evidence that regular aerobic exercise over a period of three months lead to an increase in the blood volume of the hippocampal dentate gyrus, which is a region of the hippocampus (Ahlskog et al. 2011). The hippocampus is located in the temporal lobe of the brain and its primary function is the formation of memories specifically...

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