Tag Archives: Exercise

Can Exercise Cure Alzheimer’s Disease?

“A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team finds that neurogenesis — inducing the production of new neurons — in the brain structure in which memories are encoded can improve cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Their investigation shows that cognition can be blocked by the hostile inflammatory environment in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and that physical exercise can “clean up” that environment, allowing new nerve cells to survive and thrive and improving cognition in the Alzheimer’s mice,” according to a recent article in the Harvard Gazette.

According to Dr Rudi Tanzi, the senior author on this study that was partly financed by the Cure Alzheimers Fund as well as the director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit at Mass General Hospital, “In our study we showed that exercise is one of the best ways to turn on neurogenesis” or the creation of new brain cells. In the future, researchers will try to figure out how and why this happens and will try to replicate it using some drug or device. Meanwhile, we all just go out and exercise.

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Can you work out too hard?

Yes. You can work out too hard for a whole slew of reasons.

The NY Times focuses on one of these reasons in an article entitled: “As Workouts Intensify, a Harmful Side Effect Grows More Common“. One woman highlighted in the article suffered some serious consequences from what should have been just a hard day at the spin studio.

“Over the next two days, her legs throbbed with excruciating pain, her urine turned a dark shade of brown, and she felt nauseated. Eventually she went to a hospital, where she was told she had rhabdomyolysis, a rare but life-threatening condition often caused by extreme exercise. It occurs when overworked muscles begin to die and leak their contents into the bloodstream, straining the kidneys and causing severe pain.” Ouch. This does not sound good.

So were you right all along and all of this workout nonsense was a lie? Is sitting on the couch safer? Not really. You should “workout” or exercise everyday if possible. You just need to remember two things first:

1) Fitness – what am I trying to get fit for? Do I want to play with my kids/grandkids without huffing and puffing? Do I want to ride my bike in the summer charity ride each year? Do I want to do better in summer ultimate or do I want to win my age category and some fitness-related sporting event. Have a serious chat with yourself to figure out where you should start your journey back to fitness. If you are looking to compete at a high level no matter what your age, consider getting a coach to help you build a plan and recognize problems and injuries.

2) Adapt – take your time getting into your new regime. Work your way up slowly, perhaps adding 10% or less of weight, resistance, time etc to your work outs each week. Take at least a day off a week to recover with some walking or yoga. Listen to your body and cut back when you are aware of over training symptoms such as elevated heart rate while working out (higher than usual), elevated heart rate when you wake up in the morning (take it every morning for a week to get a baseline) or are you having trouble sleeping? More ornery than usual? (Be honest).

So workout good. Workout too much and too soon less good.

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