Exercise helps reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and cancer

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Experts say physical activity, including dancing, can improve overall health and improve your mood.
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  • Regular physical activity is known to improve your overall physical health as well as your mental health.
  • In a new study, researchers say exercise may also lower your risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • They say exercise strengthens a person’s muscles and increases blood flow to the brain, among other benefits.
  • It is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.

There is no doubt that exercise improves your overall health and well-being.

It improves heart and lung health. It improves your mood and increases your stamina.

Now, researchers say they’re finding that physical activity can lower the risk of two high-profile diseases – cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

“If exercise could be bottled and sold in pill form, it would be the most prescribed drug in the world for its many physical and mental health benefits,” Todd Buckingham, PhD, exercise physiologist at Mary Free Bed Sports Rehabilitation & Performance A lab in Wyoming, Mich., Told Healthline.

More than 46,000 cancer diagnoses could be prevented with 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, according to a study published this week.

Physical activity is any movement that uses skeletal muscles and requires you to exert more energy than you would while at rest. Activities include running, walking, dancing, cycling, swimming, playing sports, and even chores.

“Some mechanisms explaining why physical activity contributes to cancer reduction are positive physiological changes in the body. These include weight loss, strengthening the heart, dilating the arteries more easily, improving blood circulation in the body, and reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol ” , Buckingham said.

There isn’t a lot of research to back up the idea that exercise lowers cancer rates.

Today, the link between the two is essentially observational, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Among other things, study participants typically self-reported their physical activity, and then researchers followed for years to document cancer diagnoses.

A 2018 study published in Cancer Treatment and Research Communications reported that lifelong physical inactivity was a risk factor for lung cancer, independent of smoking and obesity. A sedentary lifestyle also indicated a higher number of deaths.

A 2019 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that people who had higher levels of physical activity had a 10-20% reduced risk of cancer of the bladder, breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, adenocarcinoma, kidney and stomach.

A American College of Sports Medicine 2019 Roundtable also found that physical activity can help prevent cancers of the breast, colon, endometrium, kidneys, bladder, esophagus and stomach. The researchers added that physical activity could reduce the risk of developing endometrial, colon and lung cancer.

Experts say it’s also important to continue exercise programs after cancer treatment is finished.

“Even in patients who have been diagnosed with cancer and have completed their treatment, increased physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of cancer recurring,” Dr. Stefan Balan, director of health services, told Healthline. oncology at Jersey City Medical Center.

One exception is that physical activity is associated with higher levels of melanoma, perhaps because more active people are also more likely to have prolonged exposure to the sun.

Scientists have examined how exercise affects cognitive function for many years, but this topic has become more accepted over the past 15 to 20 years.

“Alzheimer’s disease is caused by an ‘increased oxidative state’ in the brain. Studies have shown that physical activity is important for cells and tissues to resist oxidative stress, ”Dr. Santoshi Billakota, adult neurologist, epileptologist and clinical assistant professor in the NYU Grossman Department of Neurology, told Healthline. School of Medicine.

“Exercise also leads to increased oxygenation and blood flow, which improves memory, neurogenesis and brain plasticity. Exercise is beneficial in the prevention and progression of dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease, ”Billakota said.

Your brain exercises both physically and cognitively.

Exercise, like aerobic or strength activities, indirectly improves brain function by increasing neuroplasticity, which in turn increases cognition.

The same goes for motor skills training, which includes activities that require thinking, such as learning a new language or playing a strategy game.

Both types of activities improve cognitive function, but when combined, dual-task training is more effective, according to Yael Netz, in the article “Is there a preferred mode of exercise for improving cognition in old age? “

Martial arts are one example. You have to think and focus as you move your body.

In an article published in the Journal of Neuroscience and a 2020 study, Kaitlin B Casaletto, PhD, assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco, reported that physical activity improved cognition, including in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

In the most recent study, researchers looked at levels of inflammation and the role it played in cognitive function.

They found that microglia, the brain’s immune cells, worked to eliminate foreign invaders. But when these were overactivated, it resulted in inflammation and damaged neurons. In animals, exercise reduced excess activation.

In a preliminary study, Casaletto and others said they found that physical activity had a significant effect on inflammation in people with severe Alzheimer’s disease.

The Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week with 2 or more days focused on major muscle groups, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week with 2 or more days focused on major muscle groups.

The extra exercise offers additional health benefits.

There isn’t enough research to tell us exactly how much exercise can prevent or slow cognitive decline, but experts say there’s no doubt that regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy. – physically and mentally.

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