I’m always bugging you about staying active. And this time, I have some specifics.
Because a brand new systematic review claims to have identified the optimal “dose” of exercise you should be getting to keep your brain sharp as you age.
And I’d be neglecting my duty as a doctor if I didn’t make a point of prescribing it as soon as possible.
The “magic number” you’ve been waiting for
This review looked at data from more than 11,000 older adults, with an average age of 73.
Just shy of 60 percent of the adults in this study were healthy. The remainder had either mild cognitive impairment or full-blown dementia.
Researchers looked at the cognition and memory scores of subjects who had been exercising for at least four weeks and compared them with subjects who were not taking part in a new exercise program.
Based on their results, at least 52 hours of exercise, over a minimum of six months, can significantly benefit your brain.
Total exercise time appeared to be the single most important factor in predicting improvements in processing speed and attention, executive function, or global function. (Training session times, weekly exercise frequency, and the number of weeks of exercise didn’t matter at all.)
This study also identified any combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training, and mind-body activities (like yoga and tai-chi) as helpful.
Start early and stay consistent
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, this really takes the usual generic exercise “prescription” — 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly, or 75 minutes if it’s vigorous — and turns it on its head.
When it comes to dementia prevention, latest findings suggest that the big picture is more important. And that a long-term commitment is the only way to get results.
Considering the fact that only about a third of older Americans are exercising — with one in five being total couch potatoes — let’s hope we can do a better job spreading this new message than we did with the old one.
And — once again — consistency is key.
Because when you think about it, that’s really what this study is saying. Don’t expect miracles in two weeks — or even a month. Because we can now say, with some certainty, that you need to be getting a specific amount of exercise for at least 6 months before you’ll notice a difference in your memory.
When you consider the fact that brain changes begin a good 10 to 20 years before dementia actually sets in, this message becomes even more urgent.
The fight against Alzheimer’s is a marathon, not a sprint. As it stands, exercise is probably the best intervention we have right now. And you simply can’t afford to wait until symptoms appear to start taking (very literal) action.
That’s why I created a comprehensive Drug-Free Protocol for Reversing Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In it, I cover exercise and dozens of other science-backed approaches for protecting and restoring your memory, strengthening focus, and building a bigger, brighter brain — all without the use of drugs. Click here to find out more, or to sign up today.