Liz Scott (Feb 2016)

20140321_Liz Scott_005C_SMALLExercise is proving to be very important in keeping fit and healthy. Dr Jackson and I always encourage exercise and we feel it is as important as taking medication in the treatment of Parkinson’s.

There is growing evidence that physical fitness helps with the cognitive decline associated with dementia, Parkinson’s and depression. In part this is because exercise gets your blood pumping, which brings more oxygen, growth factors, hormones and nutrients to your brain, helping it to grow stronger and more efficient.

Mice studies have shown that those rodents that had access to a running wheel had an increase in neuron formation in the hippocampus which is an area of the brain essential for memory. Neurons in the hippocampus produce a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor which promotes the growth of new neurons. Studies on humans have been performed and older adults who did aerobic exercises (eg running, cycling, walking briskly three times a week for a year) grew larger hippocampi and performed better in memory tests.

Strength training is also associated with benefits such as planning tasks, spatial awareness and remembering names. Doing aerobic exercise and strength training in combination is particularly helpful as it could boost communication between brain cells and promote growth of new neurons and blood vessels.

If you do not currently have an exercise plan, try to walk every day. Even 15 minutes twice a day is better than nothing

Read the entire collection of articles from Liz since she started writing for us in 2010.