What are the benefits of physical activity
Dementia is a chronic medical condition of the mental process that results due to an illness or injury to the brain and characterized by memory loss, changes in behavior as well as impairing cognitive functions. The majority of dementia is as a result of the Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disorders. The decline in these mental abilities leads to interference with the daily activities of the patient. Various studies show that there is an increase in the percentage of individuals with dementia in Australia. Research indicates that close to 298,000 persons in Australia have dementia and the estimated number is 400000 by the year 2020 (Dawson, Bowes, Kelly, Velzke, & Ward, 2015). Dementia accounts for about six percent of the deaths in Australia. The prevalence of dementia in Australia is mostly among the old population. Some statistics indicate that 62% of the cases of dementia are women and that 75% of the people with dementia are of the age of 75 years and above. Records indicate that close to 25 people die every day due to dementia (Louise, & Mestre, 2017). The most venerable population is said to be persons above the age of sixty-five years (Larson, Wang, Bowen, McCormick, Crane &Kukull, 2006 p71). Lack of physical exercise due to the change in lifestyle is attributed to the increase in cases of dementia in the aging Australian population. There are various measures to counter widespread dementia in Australia (SmithAli &Quach, 2014 p661). These efforts include physical activities and exercise as well as various medications. However, exercise has been found to be more beneficial to persons with dementia since the available pharmacological interventions have been found to have less impact. It has been discovered that ‘exercise is medicine’ hence the physical exercise is an efficient non-pharmacological option. The aim of this assignment on literature review is to explore the benefits of exercise and physical activity in the reduction of dementia among the elderly persons in Australia.
Dementia Risk and Prevention
There are risk factors for dementia that cannot be altered which include genetics and age. However, research shows that there is continued efforts to explore the benefits of other risk factors especially on brain health as well as the prevention of dementia. The research on risk prevention and the prevention deals with various areas which include physical fitness through physical activity, cardiovascular factors, and diet (Smith, Ali &Quach, 2014 p661). However, in this study only literature dealing with the benefits of exercises and other physical activities in risk reduction of dementia will be reviewed.
Methods of Data Collection
Various search strategies were applied to find the relevant information concerning this research. Grey Literature together with the Google Scholar was used to come up with different articles, journal, periodicals, books and other peer reviewed written materials on the benefits of exercise among the elderly population in Australia in the reduction of risk of dementia. These articles range from ‘Ageing and Society,' Senior Citizens’, ‘Dementia” as well as “Journal of Ageing and Health. Government sources were included since they contain the efforts that the Australian government has put to encourage the elderly participate in the physical activity to come up with the dementia-free elderly population. Different books and materials were also used to analyze various studies done on the current trends in physical activity and reduction of risk of dementia. These books were obtained from databases which include ‘Pubmed,' ‘Medline.' ‘Proquest’ and ‘Informit.' Various elderly persons were also consulted for them to explain the benefits of exercises in their quest to reduce the effects of dementia in their old age.
The important words that were used to search for the online articles and also journals are dementia, decreased cognitive functions in patients with dementia in Australia, memory loss in Australia, the relationship between ageing and dementia, the relationship between the lack of physical activities and dementia, elderly people and dementia, dementia in old age nursing facilities and the factors that contribute to Dementia in Australia (Smith et al. 2014 p661). The search timeframe was twelve weeks to enable extensive research and data analysis. The findings of this study were grouped thematically. The specific themes were chosen after thorough research, reading various research articles and consolidating the information in narrowed topics. The most important benefits of exercise and physical activity in the risk reduction among the aging Australian population were found to be an improvement of mental and physical characteristics, social advantages, improved cognitive functions, health benefits and preservation of quality of life.
Exercise leads to Improved Physical Capacity and Health
Ohman et al. states that people who are involved in physical activities have resulted in improvement of physical and mental health. Physical activity helps in reducing physical decline among individuals with dementia or at the risk of acquiring dementia. Through the combined aerobic and strength training programs, the elderly people can preserve their physical characteristics. Regular exercising has been found to have improved mental health and reduction of other health problems that face persons with dementia. Physical exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory problems that usually face the elderly population hence decreasing the effects of dementia (Öhman, Savikko, Strandberg, Kautiainen, Raivio & Laakkonen, 2014 p348). Persons with dementia involvement in various physical activities results into improvement mental health as exercises increase oxygen and blood flow to the brain cell hence directly benefiting the brain which leads to the reduction of risk of dementia.
Physical Activity Reduces Social problems that lead to Dementia.
Through participating in various exercises and physical activities, persons with the risk of suffering from dementia can meet other individuals with similar problems. These interactions help in reduction of different social problems. The danger of feeling the loneliness that could lead to harming themselves is reduced since the harm could be to the brain. These physical activities among the aging population keep them engaged in social activities and enables them to be busy. The elderly persons at the risk of dementia, therefore, are involved in various activities hence reducing the time they may have to harm themselves since these individuals have mental impairments which could lead them to different action that could harm them including suicidal thoughts. Reduction of social problems results decreased the occurrence of diseases like Alzheimer’s disease which contributes to the development of dementia (Ervin, Pallant, Terry, Bourke, Pierce & Glenister, 2015 p258)
Exercise helps in Preservation of Quality of life
Studies by Louise and Mestre reveal that persons who have dementia face numerous challenges that reduce the quality of their lives. These problems include reduced cognitive functions, the presence of pain that leads to sleeping disorders among the persons who have dementia, and also the loss of motor skills and balance which increases the risk of falling among the elderly generation suffering from dementia. Research indicates that daily involvement in exercise and other physical activities leads to the reduction of the problems that face the elderly persons who have dementia. Therefore, exercises should be included in the day-to-day operations of individuals aged sixty years and above (Louise, & Mestre, 2017).
Physical Activity has led to Australian Government involvement in Management of Dementia hence Risk Reduction of Dementia
Due to the need for physical activity in risk reduction of dementia in Australia, the government of Australia has come up with various policies and procedures to enhance and promote exercises and other physical activities required in risk reduction (Travers, Lie, Martin-Khan, 2015 p67). The government involvement in the promotion of physical activity to reduce the risk is through the increase in the number of care homes for the elderly individuals so that their management can be performed by professionals who have vast knowledge and skills on physical activity and the benefits it has in the reduction of the risk of acquiring dementia. The government has increased the number of caregivers who enhances the physical activity in these care homes to enable risk reduction of dementia among the elderly population in Australia. Research indicates that the Australian government offers funding to facilitate exercises and physical activities. The government of Australia has introduced programs to overcome dementia by providing improved health care facilities to the aged through finances, homes for the elderly, and trained personnel to keep the old people healthy (Brett, Traynor & Stapley, 2016 p104). The involvement of the Australian government in the promotion of physical activity among the elderly suffering from dementia has resulted in improvement of the health sector.
Physical Activity importance in the Maintenance of Cognitive Functions
Glynn et al. states that the drug treatment for the management of dementia hove limited effects and therefore, the primary support offered to persons with dementia and their families since the disease has a genetic origin, is usually services only that help mitigate against the loss of function. Exercise is one of these services, and it helps in the maintaining cognitive functions. Research by Glynn et al. indicates that active seniors show less decline in cognitive functions than those who are active (Glynn, Dolan, Shelley& Lawlor, 2016 p1006). Experiments show that exercises reduce the rate of cognitive functions hence should be employed to monitor and manage cognitive duties of the older generation to decrease the risk of dementia in Australia. Physical activity enhances vascular changes in the brain through the maintenance of cerebral blood flow and assist in the growth of new neurons or even relieving stress on the existing neurons leading to improved cognitive functions. Regular exercises reduce the vascular disorders hence lessen the risk of dementia hence preserving and maintaining the higher cognitive functions (Almeida, Khan, Hankey, Yeap, Golledge & Flicker, 2014 p 223)
Physical Activity helps Patient Connect with the Environment and Community
Most of the physical activities and exercises are outdoor tasks. These includes walks, hikes, running and other events that help to keep fit. For instance, walking outdoor as a form of exercise in a certain community helps in the re-establishment of a link or connection with the surrounding environment and nature. This connection is necessary since the population that suffers from dementia in Australia is that of the elderly individuals who usually stay at home or the nursing care centers. This connection helps in stress reduction and the feeling of wellbeing which are essential for the mitigation of the adverse effects of dementia (Wells, Evans & Cheek, 2016 p203)
Mechanisms of Action of the Physical Activity and Dementia
Larson et al. indicates that on the vascular system, various physical activities and exercises restore cerebral hypo-perfusion hence increasing the blood flow to the brain which reduces the effects of dementia on the brain (Larson et al. 2006 p77). Exercises and physical activities enhance the neurochemical pathways to increase serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain which consequently elevates the functioning of the central nervous system, therefore, enhancing cognitive performance (Jack, 2017 p109). On cognitive reserve, there is the reduction of cognitive deficits which is achieved through the activation of brain plasticity, neurogenesis, and synaptogenesis enhancement. Physical activity helps in stress reduction as it enhances the development of positive emotional feelings hence reducing stress and leading to lower susceptibility to the cognitive deficiency. Exercise restores functions and capabilities through the facilitation of attainment of memory and learning (Deckers et al. 2015 p 237)
Studies done by the Alzheimer’s Association have shown that persons who are physically active and engages in daily exercises have a higher chance of surviving the numerous factors that lead to dementia. Physical activity helps in the reduction of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disorders that lead to dementia (Alzheimer's Association, 2017 p337). The old generation in which dementia is more common need to get involved in daily exercises and physical activities since they have beneficial importance on the reduction of dementia and also reduces the symptoms experienced by patients with dementia. Physical activity leads to increased physical capacity as well as improved health status of individuals with dementia. The quality of life is preserved through exercises and physical activity since it helps the individuals be able to carry out their daily activities like before (Langlois, Vu, Chassé, Dupuis, Kergoat & Bherer, 2013 p 403). Research indicates that physical activity helps in the reduction of social problems associated with dementia and old age since these activities enhance social interaction. Physical activity helps in the improvement of cognitive functions among persons with dementia. Exercises and various physical activities enable the patient to connect with the environment and the community. The review that was made has proven all these benefits of physical activity and exercises in risk reduction of dementia in Australia.
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