This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Senior Health & Fitness Day. As the nation’s largest older adult health and wellness event, the observance encourages seniors across the country to participate in local health and wellness events including health fairs, exercise classes, health presentations and walking events. With National Senior Health & Fitness Day closing out Older Americans Month (OAM), it is a great time to focus on the cognitive benefits of physical exercise.
The Connection: Cognitive and Physical Health
Mental and physical health is an important component of living independently for older Americans. There is a common misconception that symptoms of dementia are a natural aspect of the aging process. However, effects of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking and behavior, are not normal aspects of aging.
The good news is studies show that about 40% of dementia cases can be prevented or delayed with lifestyle changes that address modifiable risk factors, including physical activity.
Studies show that physical activity can slow the development of MCI, the early stage of cognitive decline or memory loss. The EXERT study demonstrated that older adults who exercised regularly throughout an 18-month period had the same results on a cognitive assessment as they did in the beginning of the study, indicating physical activity stalled the progression of MCI. Moreover, the benefit was seen irrespective of the level of physical exertion. People performing simple seated exercises with stretching bands had similar benefits to those able to walk on a treadmill.
Similarly, the Systematic Multi-Domain Alzheimer’s Risk Reduction Trial (SMARRT) study found that reducing risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, depression, mid-life hypertension, mid-life obesity and diabetes could also reduce the prevalence of AD in the U.S.
Despite more older Americans adopting healthy lifestyles and these prevention strategies, experts predict there will be 13 million people with AD by 2050.
Symptoms of dementia can be difficult to differentiate from typical age-related behavior changes and other common and potentially curable conditions. An early diagnosis of AD can help to alleviate worry for older Americans and get them on the right AD therapeutic journey sooner. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to diagnose AD, with 50% to 70%of symptomatic AD patients not correctly diagnosed in primary care and 25% to 30% misdiagnosed in specialized memory clinics.
SYNAPS Dx (SDx) offers DISCERN™, the first autopsy-validated, highly accurate and minimally invasive test available to support a clinician’s definitive diagnosis of AD, even in people recently diagnosed with dementia.
On National Senior Health & Fitness Day, the SDx team hopes older adults consider looking for local health and fitness events to participate in within their communities.
Read more about AD here and contact SDx for more information on testing for AD. Find a local National Senior Health & Fitness Day event here. * The DISCERN™ test was developed and its performance characteristics determined by NeuroDiagnostics Inc, dba Synaps Dx. It has not been cleared or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. NeuroDiagnostics, Inc. is regulated under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) as an accredited laboratory to perform high complexity clinical testing. The test is intended for patients with dementia. Test results should be interpreted in conjunction with other laboratory and clinical data available to the clinician