Crush the Onset of Dementia with Cardio

More and more people are being diagnosed with dementia at an alarming rate, but there is a bonafide preventative measure that often gets overlooked…cardiovascular training!

As a trainer for over 24 years, I have worked with many long-term clients (many for 15 years or more). What I’ve noticed is my sharpest clients cognitively have been those that continued working in some capacity, kept a consistent social life, and who’ve remained consistently active. 

Conversely, I have seen the opposite happen with some clients whereby they neglected to keep busy with projects, unplugged socially, and slowed down with their activity causing a noticeable cognitive decline. I want to delve into some of the research and mechanisms that help explain why being physically active affects our brain health, and more specifically, as it relates to the onset of dementia.

There are plenty of health benefits to being regularly active but the least apparent one, yet possibly most crucial, is its effect on cognition and brain health. A study done at the University of BC found that exercise, specifically moderate aerobic exercise (movement that noticeably increases your heart rate and causes sweating), actually increases the volume of the hippocampus where verbal memory and learning occur!


No joke, cardio makes your brain bigger! Interestingly, they found resistance training and balance training had no effect on the brain…It’s the cardio that matters most. So if you think your regular walks don’t really make a difference to your health…think again! On top of this finding, exercise of all kinds has been shown to yield indirect brain benefits as well; such as reduced inflammation, reduced insulin resistance, and releasing growth factors that affect brain cell vascularity, volume, and longevity. Moreover, regular exercise reduces anxiety and stress and improves sleep and mood…all of which contribute to better brain health.

How much is enough? Well, more research is needed on different modalities, as most of the data is based on walking. However, the mechanisms by which these benefits affect the brain can easily be transferred to all activities that get the heart pumping and cause sweating for at least 2 hours i.e. brisk walking, biking, dancing, etc. 

Being active doesn’t have to be a chore!  Make it fun, involve kids (they can really get you moving), and enjoy the outdoors.  Involving others, fresh air, and social interaction will only compound the mental health and brain benefits! Start with small amounts of movement and build a routine around it. You will notice you feel better physically and mentally and will be sharper cognitively. Over time, you will reap these long-term brain training benefits and drastically reduce your chances of dementia. Keep moving and have fun, your brain will thank you! 

Interested in increasing cardiovascular activity?

Book an appointment or contact me here if you are interested in learning how to incorporate more cardiovascular training into your day-to-day routine. 

Colin Davis
Certified Personal Trainer

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