Practicing a sport helps to preserve its health throughout life, but its positive impact did not stop there. The sport also seems to play a beneficial role in slowing the cognitive decline. In fact, more and more scientific studies show that it participates in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and the well-being of people who are already sick.
Sport and the prevention of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease has become a major public health issue, the extent of which continues to grow year by year due to the constant rise in life expectancy. Several research studies are currently being carried out on the entire planet in the hope of finding a cure for this progressive degeneration, often irreversible.
Outside of drug therapies that have yet to demonstrate their effectiveness, fortunately, there are alternative approaches for seniors to prevent or lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s disease : staying socially active after retirement, and to maintain intellectual activity as well as a healthy and balanced diet.
Recent studies also suggest that practicing sport at age 50 and beyond plays a key role on the mental well-being and the cognitive abilities of the elderly population..
The results of scientific studies
If scientists already know that a regular sporting activity has a protective effect on the brain, its specific impact on Alzheimer’s disease is still under analysis. The preliminary studies conducted in recent years show, however, that athletes have a much lower risk of developing the disease than other categories of population.
In addition to being beneficial for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, it is also recognized that the sport allows patients already infected by the disease to preserve their motor skills, their balance and their sense of direction. Physical activity is also contributing to the good mood of the patients, and facilitates the acceptance of the disease and monitoring of treatment. Therefore, the sport tends to prevent not only the onset of the neurodegenerative disease in the elderly, but also to slow down the progression of some of its most damaging effects !
The conclusions of these studies are not quite yet a consensus within the scientific community. However, other research carried out at the same time have already proven that the sport and the memory are closely linked one to the other : physical activity promotes the production of neurons and synaptic connections in the brain, which has for main consequence to boost the cognitive abilities of people of all ages.
Why seniors have to get out there
Alzheimer’s disease affects mainly people over the age of 65, and about 15% of people over 80 years of age have diabetes. According to the latest estimates, 900,000 people suffer from the disease in France to this day, and their number is expected to increase in high proportions in the future. The specialists anticipate that at least 1.5 million French will be affected by 2025, and that the 3 million mark could be exceeded by 2050.
Therefore, it is highly recommended for seniors to practice regular physical activity if this is not already the case, that they are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or not. As muscle exercises frequent have another advantage : they also allow this population to live longer, and most importantly better health.