The longest day of the year, the summer solstice, is on June 21. Since prehistory, this day with the most light, has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals.
That is now the case these days when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. Thousands of people from around the world get together on The Longest Day®, to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. They use their creativity and passion to raise funds and awareness for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.
There are countless ways to show your support on that day, from exercise (run, walk, cycle, yoga); sports (golf, bowling, soccer, tennis); parties and events (galas, cookouts, parties); games (board games, bridge, card games); hobbies (cooking, gardening, fishing); and arts (singing, dancing, playing music). Be sure visit The Longest Day website and check out the many ideas and register for the activity.
On a side note, researchers continue to study the links between exercise and dementia. Namely, does physical activity provide cognitive benefits? While the World Health Organization recommend regular physical activity – both aerobic and strength training – for older adults as a way to reduce mental decline, studies still have not completely borne that out.
A recent article in the May/June issue of Today’s Geriatric Medicine, summarized the analysis to date on this topic and similarly found mixed results. Some studies found exercise had a positive effect, others did not. But there was some belief that exercise is beneficial for those with highest genetic risk for dementia.
Much more can be found in the article, but the lead author of the meta-analysis, Gregory Panza, MS, an exercise physiologist at Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital, concluded there are significant gaps in research on exercise and dementia. Yet, he still recommends exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, as a valuable treatment option for those who have dementia or are at risk. He said that not only is there evidence that it can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, but the physical benefits of exercise may also help patients keep their independence longer.
So, get out there on June 21 and be active!