Experts say you can significantly reduce your risk of dementia by doing this one thing

One Creighton professor is using that knowledge to do her own study to see if using telehealth technology would increase physical activity.
It's possible to reduce your risk of dementia and cognitive decline with one simple thing.
Published: Jul. 27, 2022 at 5:09 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With regular exercise, seniors in Council Bluffs are reducing their risk of dementia by up to 30%.

One Creighton professor is using that knowledge to do her own study to see if using telehealth technology—like Zoom—would increase physical activity.

Dr. Rashelle Hoffman is testing it on people with mild cognitive impairment. She says that as you exercise, blood flood increases to the brain.

“With the increased blood flow, there’s more blood flow of nutrients for the neurons or cells in your brain so they can be more physically active,” said Dr. Hoffman.

And that has lasting effects on brain size.

“You can see that there are improvements in volume of structures in your brain, meaning that your brain size is increasing, which is helpful because with aging, what we see is that brain size usually decreases in a lot of key structures that are important for cognitive function,” said Dr. Hoffman.

Barb Padilla is a regular at the YMCA’s senior exercise class. She’s been going for 11 years.

“It has become a family. The best decision I’ve ever made. We laugh, and we play, and we get some exercise,” she said.

Part of the challenge of these activities is not just the physical aspect but also following along with the instructor as she goes through the routine.

“We concentrate on what Kim [the instructor] is doing, and then you come back the next day and your mind goes, ‘I know what we’re doing,’” said Patty Martin, another class participant.

The class is a way to socialize for many.

“It keeps me energized. It makes me think. You communicate. You’re healthier. You’re more healthy, mentally and physically,” said Padilla.

That social aspect of the class also supports brain function.

“Chatting with someone, remembering what someone is involved with, or remembering someone’s name, like all of those things also help. The more that you’re using those cognitive resources, it goes back to the philosophy: if you don’t use it, you lose it,” said Dr. Hoffman.

The public health community defines regular physical activity as 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.

Dr. Hoffman’s remote intervention can help identify and overcome barriers to what is keeping people from reaching their exercise goals.

The YMCA tells 6 News that the organization does take certain insurance benefits to cover memberships and senior exercise programs.

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