Being overweight can dramatically increase the risk of all types of dementia and Alzheimer’s – almost doubling your chances of suffering either condition.

And, unfortunately, the news gets even worse…

Research has shown that those people that measured the greatest increase in their abdomen or stomach size were more than three times as likely to develop dementia – irrespective of whether their weight increased (they just had to have developed larger bellies)!

The reasons behind this aren’t clear but it may be that increased abdominal fat is also linked to diabetes, heart disease, increased blood pressure and strokes – all of which have a direct correlation with the increased incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

So what are the two best ways to avoid weight gain and increased abdominal fat? I believe the two best ways are exercise and diet and in this article I would like to look at how exercise can help.

The good news is that the exercise involved or the amount of time spent exercising does not have to be too strenuous or too long and you don't have to be fit to start it either – in fact the more frail a person is or the more unfit they are before they begin an exercise regime the more that exercise was likely to help them.

All you need to do is 15 minutes of exercise, three times a week ranging from the following activities – walking, hiking, bicycling, aerobics or callisthenics, swimming, water aerobics, weight training or stretching – and that is enough to slow down the rate of Alzheimer’s disease or even delay it’s onset by up to 40%!

As well as the affects that simple exercise can have on cognitive function it also has other positive benefits. These include reducing the severity of the depression that is often associated with dementia (some studies suggesting that up to 70% of patients with dementia may also suffer from depression), reducing the number of falls (a common problem amongst the elderly but one that is more common amongst Alzheimer’s suffers) and reducing the amount of “aimless” wandering that is often associated with these conditions – as the sufferer becomes more engaged in time filling activities they are less prone to wander out of boredom. Another added benefit of regular exercise is that it can naturally improve sleep and sleeping habits (again fitful or disturbed sleep is common in those that suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia).

Exercise doesn’t have to involve strenuous activity but it just has to get the blood pumping a little faster, increase the breathing rate and last at least 15-20 minutes, three times a week (and it can always be longer and harder should you so desire!).

Also, exercise (like people) comes in all shapes and sizes and should involve something you enjoy or something that needs doing. Cleaning is a good example of something that at least falls into the second category. Research has shown that those people that actively clean (and this includes sweeping, polishing, mopping, cleaning windows etc.) for 20 minutes at a time still had a respectable 20% decrease in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t just have to be housework either; gardening and D.I.Y. also count towards the exercise stakes and this can include mowing the lawn, raking up leaves and moss, hedge trimming, pruning etc.

There are another couple of benefits with incorporating household chores into your exercise regime and the first is that there isn’t any equipment to buy or a routine to learn – most of the equipment needed is found under your kitchen sink and the “moves” involved have usually been learnt by rote years ago. The other benefit is that the more elbow grease you exert the better it is with regards to memory improvement – and you can see the results of your hard efforts not only in your surroundings looking much better but also with noticeable improvements in joint mobility and general flexibility.

If you do decide to start up an exercise routine (and I would suggest that you seriously think about it) there are a few little pointers I would recommend. These are...

1. Don't eat anything heavy a couple of hours before vigorous exercise.

2. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout – water is ideal.

3. Adjust your activity according to how you are feeling on that day and the weather – don't try to do to much if you don't feel up to it, you are tired or ill and don't over exert if it is too hot.

4. Listen to your body. If your exercise regime induces chest pain, irregular heartbeat, undue aches, pains or tiredness, nausea, unexpected breathlessness or light headedness stop what you are doing and if the feelings do not subside see your doctor.

5. Remember to have a warm-up and cool-down period.

So now you are working your body and you brain read my other articles and purchase my book The Alzheimer's Alternative and learn other ways to greatly lessen your chances of developing Alzheimer's and slow it's progression.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Steffan H. Abel D.C. has been involved in Chiropractic and healthcare research for over 20 years. He has run his own successful practice in the north of England for the last 19 years. During which time he has treated over 10,000 patients and given over 100,000 treatments. He has lectured and taught extensively in both Europe and America to students, chiropractors and medical doctors.

He has studied Hypnotherapy, N.L.P. and qualified as a Life Coach. He has also studied various Chiropractic-based treatments (gaining a M.Sc. in post graduate Clinical Chiropractic in 2003) as well as energy therapies such as Seichem and Reiki. In 2001 he became a Fellow of the College of Chiropractors and a Fellow of the Association of Osteomyology and in 2007 became a Fellow of the European Academy of Chiropractic.

In his spare time he spends between 15 and 25 hours per week researching all areas of “alternative” and allopathic healthcare in order to bring the best advice to his patients through his practice and writing and has just finished his latest book The Alzheimer's Alternative ( When not working he is to be found enjoying life with Sue, his partner, – whom he loves tremendously!

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