Exercises to boost brain resilience and potentially reverse Alzheimer’s are discussed.


Dr. Heather Sandison, a leading authority on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care, asserts that reversal of the condition is not only conceivable but is already occurring among multiple patients. Her latest book, “Reversing Alzheimer’s: The New Tool Kit to Improve Cognition and Protect Brain Health,” published by HarperCollins on June 11, offers a comprehensive guide for enhancing brain health in Alzheimer’s patients.

Sandison, based in California, emphasizes exercise as a pivotal component of her program, citing its profound impact on preventing and managing dementia. Scientific research supports the role of physical activity in reducing the risk and progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, delivering vital oxygen and nutrients while eliminating waste products, thereby promoting overall brain function.

Moreover, exercise strengthens the cardiovascular system, which helps sustain improved blood circulation even during periods of rest. This cardiovascular benefit is crucial as arterial plaques, which can disrupt blood flow to the brain, are implicated in dementia progression.

Sandison describes exercise as a hormetic stressor, beneficially challenging the body to enhance its resilience. By stimulating the body’s adaptive responses, exercise aids in tissue repair and strengthens overall bodily functions. This adaptive stress response is particularly beneficial for neurological health, mitigating several root causes of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The multifaceted benefits of exercise extend beyond physical health to include stress reduction, social interaction, and improved sleep quality. Physical activity serves as a natural stress reliever, releasing endorphins and reducing cortisol levels. Additionally, engaging in exercise outdoors fosters a sense of well-being and combats social isolation, factors known to influence Alzheimer’s risk.

Sandison’s approach underscores the importance of personalized exercise regimens that challenge both the body and mind. For instance, varying exercise routines to include activities like hill walking or participating in new exercise classes can significantly enhance cognitive function. These activities not only boost physical fitness but also stimulate mental engagement, crucial for maintaining brain health.

Sandison identifies four primary categories of exercise essential for optimizing brain health: aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility exercises, and balance training. Aerobic exercise, commonly known as cardio, elevates heart rate and improves cardiovascular fitness, directly benefiting brain function by enhancing oxygen delivery and nutrient circulation.

Strength training, involving resistance exercises like weightlifting or using resistance bands, promotes muscle growth and triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF plays a crucial role in neuroplasticity, facilitating the formation of new neural connections and supporting cognitive flexibility.

Sandison advises Alzheimer’s patients to aim for at least 150 to 200 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, maintaining a vigorous intensity level. She stresses the importance of listening to one’s body and adjusting exercise intensity based on individual capabilities and comfort levels.

Incorporating strength training exercises at least twice a week is also recommended, focusing on major muscle groups to maximize brain health benefits. Sandison encourages utilizing various forms of resistance, from traditional weights to body-weight exercises like squats and lunges, which enhance both strength and cardiovascular fitness simultaneously.

Recent advancements in Alzheimer’s research, including experimental treatments and clinical trials, highlight a growing emphasis on innovative approaches to managing the disease. Sandison’s holistic framework, encompassing exercise as a cornerstone of Alzheimer’s care, aligns with emerging trends in neurocognitive medicine.

The publication of “Reversing Alzheimer’s” comes at a time of heightened awareness and research focus on Alzheimer’s disease, underscoring the urgency of effective preventive measures and treatment strategies. Sandison’s insights into the therapeutic potential of exercise offer hope and practical guidance for patients, caregivers, and healthcare providers navigating the complexities of Alzheimer’s care.

As the global population ages and the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease rises, initiatives promoting brain health through lifestyle interventions, including exercise, are gaining traction. Sandison’s evidence-based approach positions physical activity as a fundamental tool in combating cognitive decline and enhancing overall quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients.


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