Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is a key protein that helps diminish neural degradation. People with Alzheimer’s, however, are found to have significantly lower NGF levels causing them to be more vulnerable to the disease. Breakthrough research has revealed that NGF levels can be increased by introducing yoga into your fitness routines. Here are two easy exercises you can practice as a preventative measure.
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is a condition that normally occurs in older adults. Symptoms include gradual memory loss, confusion and eventually death. Currently there are 3.2 million women in the US with Alzheimer’s. Actually women have a 1 in 6 chance of developing the condition compared with men who have a 1 in 11 chance. As of today, there is no known cure for the disease, but there are measures you can take to help prevent it.
Research reveals that yoga breathing exercises help boost NGF levels, according to a 2015 study published by the Journal of International Psychogeriatrics Association. This conclusion is supported by an experiment conducted during the study.
Twenty volunteers were divided into two groups: one taught a yoga breathing program and the other was asked to read quietly for 20 minutes. The breathing program consisted of 10 minutes of Om chanting and 10 minutes of yoga breathing regulation after which volunteers' NGF levels were tested. The results revealed that the yoga group displayed a 60 percent increase in NGF levels compared to readers.
Dr. Sundara Balasubramanian, study researcher, biochemist and research assistant at the Medical University of South California, said, “Being a systemic exercise, yogic breathing could be a powerful tool in preventing and/or managing neurodegenerative diseases.”
The power of chair yoga
As the name suggests, the exercise routine is conducted on a chair that takes up little space. The 2014 study published in Research in Gerontology Nursing claimed that chair yoga helps improve balance and quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients. The conclusion was put to the test when the chair yoga program was administered to nine patients for eight weeks, where two sessions were held weekly.
The 50-minute session comprised of 10 minutes of breathing exercises, 20 minutes of chair yoga postures, 5 minutes of balance-enhancing postures and 10 minutes of relaxation and meditation. Researchers noted that participants had significantly improved balance and also showed improvements in walking and gait speed. Positive changes in physical measure brought about a positive turn neurally as well. This created a more positive mindset, especially since they were capable of moving and doing more, the patient’s initial focus was partially shifted from the disease itself.
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