According to the Alzheimer’s Association, around 5.3 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease. Worryingly, there is no sign of this number lowering anytime soon. There still exists no known cure for this debilitating disease, while preventative measures continue to be scarce.
However, while preventative measures are certainly scarce, there are still adjustments you can make to your life to not only reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, but to also improve your condition if you are showing early signs of the disease. One of these is taking up yoga.
What Is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient Hindu spiritual discipline that is much than just “poses”; it’s concerned with uniting mind and body so that they harmonize via the means of breathing techniques, meditation and posture. Yoga promotes a holistic way of life that allows us to see the world on an entirely different plane than we are used to. The end goal is to make us calmer, happier, and more satisfied.
Yoga Can Strengthen Your Memory
Memory loss is just one of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and it’s often the one we associate most with the disease. However, memory loss is also a symptom of getting older and could be an indicator that we are at risk of developing dementia.
The respected neurologist Rebecca Erwin Wells, MD, undertook a study in 2013 and found that adults suffering from mild cognitive impairment showed less atrophy after practicing mindfulness than those who did not.
Wells’ study also concluded that people who meditate and practice yoga have better neural connectivity in their default mode network than those who did not. Our default mode network is the part of our brain we use to daydream and access memories, as well as think about the future.
Yoga Can Be Socially Invigorating
As we get older, our worlds can get smaller. We retire and lose contact with people. Perhaps our partners pass away and our children move out of town. Joining a yoga class puts you in touch with new people, opening up your world, and socialization is an important component of brain health in the older years.
Yoga Can Reduce Stress
Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is an extremely stressful time in anybody’s life. It is especially stressful if one is diagnosed young. Not only this, but stress also takes roots in careers who have to look after those suffering with Alzheimer’s.
Yoga is recommended in both cases. Such a mind-body has been found to bring solace to individuals who are stressed, and brings benefits to people who have Alzheimer’s-related stress and anxiety. It helps to calm us, as well as lighten mood, and it encourages overall wellbeing.
Yoga Can Strengthen Concentration
People suffering from Alzheimer’s will admit that concentration no longer comes easy. If you are having difficulty concentrating, either due to the onset of Alzheimer’s, or simply because you are getting older, yoga could not only provide a respite but also a boost.
Yoga teaches us to relax. It teaches us to live solely in the moment and to focus. One of the reasons many of us find it hard to relax is because we live in the future; we picture events unravelling. This stops us from living in the present and concentrating on the task at hand. Yoga keeps you rooted.
Yoga Reduces Cortisol
Cortisol is a stress hormone. In 2016, it’s little surprise that we’re more stressed than ever before; we work longer hours, and we find it hard to switch off.
However, relaxing is essential if we want to live longer lives. When cortisol is overproduced, it puts you at a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Yoga helps to reduce the production of this hormone, putting you in an enhanced state of relaxation.