Ozioma Okonkwo, PhD, an international leader in studying how physical activity changes the brain, met with Wisconsin First Lady Kathy Evers to discuss lifestyle factors that can protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Okonkwo shared why he believes physical activity is a "game changer" in reducing the risk for dementia.
"We believe that physical activity is one of the most potent ways that individuals can begin to take action against potential risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias," Okonkwo said in the interview. He noted that physical activity can be fun and enjoyable, is free, and has no negative side effects if done correctly.
Okonkwo went on to explain that science has shown moderate-intensity physical activity has the most impact against cognitive decline, but any physical activity is beneficial for overall health. And it’s never too late to start.
"We’ve seen folks who have never exercised all their lives, and they come into our lab at the age of 65 or 70 and begin a regimen of physical activity," he said. "We see very clear changes in their brain and cognitive health over time."
Watch the first lady’s full interview with Dr. Okonkwo:
Listen to Dr. Okonkwo on an episode of the Dementia Matters podcast. In "Impacts of Exercise on Brain Health," he talks about how he got interested in studying exercise and Alzheimer's disease as well as the "talk test" — a simple way to determine if you are engaged in light, moderate or vigorous physical activity.
Read about six lifestyle changes that can delay the onset or lower risk for Alzheimer's disease.