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Embrace an active lifestyle and join us as we explore the compelling link between outdoor exercise and cognitive health during Alzheimer’s Awareness month. Discover how nature’s influence may offer powerful protection against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia.

According to the Alzheimer's Society, regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 45%. Now, a study of nearly 62 million Medicare beneficiaries suggests that nature may also help protect against the risk of developing certain neurodegenerative disorders. During Alzheimer’s Awareness month, we’re spotlighting 5 data-driven benefits of outdoor physical activity on cognitive function and how it can lower the risk of Alzheimer's, Dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases:

  1. Walking and Dementia Risk Reduction: One of the simplest forms of outdoor exercise is walking. Research indicates that walking as few as 4,000 steps a day can reduce a person's dementia risk by 25%. This statistic underscores the profound impact that regular, moderate physical activity can have on our brain health. Walking promotes blood flow to the brain, which is essential for maintaining healthy neural connections. Additionally, it helps reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, factors that contribute to cognitive decline.
  2. Stimulating Activities and Cognitive Decline: Engaging in stimulating activities is another crucial factor in slowing cognitive decline and enhancing overall quality of life. Outdoor exercise provides a dual benefit: physical movement and mental engagement. Activities such as hiking, cycling, or organized outdoor fitness classes stimulate the mind and body simultaneously. These activities challenge the brain, promoting neuroplasticity—the brain's ability to adapt and form new connections. This mental stimulation is vital for maintaining cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
  3. Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Dementia Risk: Cardiorespiratory fitness, which involves the efficiency of the heart, lungs, and muscles working together during physical activity, plays a significant role in brain health. A study presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 74th Annual Meeting in 2022 reported that individuals who actively engaged in cardiorespiratory fitness reduced their overall dementia risk by 33%. This form of fitness includes activities like running, swimming, and cycling, all of which can be enjoyed outdoors. By improving cardiorespiratory fitness, individuals can enhance oxygen and nutrient delivery to the brain, fostering better cognitive function and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  4. Utilizing the Fitness Court: The Fitness Court provides an excellent opportunity for incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Free and accessible, the Fitness Court offers a variety of exercises that cater to all different fitness levels and abilities. From strength training to aerobic exercises, the seven stations of the Fitness Courts are designed to promote overall health and wellness. Working out in nature reduces our body’s stress levels while heightening our ability to focus.
  5. Combating Loneliness through Active Living: Adopting an active lifestyle that includes regular outdoor exercise with friends is a proactive step towards maintaining cognitive health. Beyond the physical benefits, outdoor group activities offer the added advantage of being in nature, while interacting with peers, which has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood and decrease loneliness—all important factors to reduce neurodegenerative disorders. Whether it’s a brisk walk in the park, a group workout session at the Fitness Court, or a weekend hike, integrating group outdoor exercise into daily life can have lasting positive effects on cognitive function.

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