By Dr. Anthony Policastro

We all know that exercise is good for us. Unfortunately, that does not always translate into our behavior. What we sometimes fail to recognize is that exercise is good for all parts of our bodies. Our muscles are not the only thing to benefit.

A good example of this is related to exercise and brain health. We have known for years that exercise can significantly reduce the risk of future dementia. Various studies have shown that reduction to be somewhere in the 50 percent level.

We have a lot of proteins that control our brain activity. There is a group of proteins that are called presynaptic proteins. There are six common ones. They are responsible for transmitting information between brain cells.

Previous studies had shown that people with high levels of these proteins have better levels of cognitive performance. 

On Jan. 7 a study was published in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. The study showed that the amount of these proteins was higher in people who were more active.

In addition the more physical activity a person has, the higher the levels of these proteins. The type of physical activity was less important than the duration of it. Thus even walking increased the level of these proteins.

The recommendation that the ideal amount of walking to do is about 20 to 30 minutes per day. That adds up to about 150 minutes a week. That should be the goal.

This marks the first time that there has actually been a measurable reason for why exercise improves brain health. 

Anyone who is getting to the age where dementia can set in should be exercising regularly. It does not need to be heavy exercise. Walking is sufficient. Going up and down stairs is sufficient.

The goal is 150 minutes a week.

The alternative is to wait until you get dementia. Then you won’t be able to remember if you exercised or not.

COVID update- As predicted, the number of new cases continue to drop. Nationally, they peaked at 5,733,000 two weeks ago. Last week they were at 4,930,000. This week they are down to 3,653,000. Before the current surge, they were running between 500,000 and 600,000.

In Sussex County the number of new cases peaked at 5,157 two weeks ago. Last week they were at 3,059. This week they are down to 2,016. Before the current surge, they were running between 500 and 600.

These statistics are relatively consistent with what we saw in both South Africa and the United Kingdom. The numbers should continue decreasing.

As I have said all along, everyone has a choice in dealing with the virus. They can choose to get vaccinated. They can choose to get infected. The way this virus works, one of those two things will happen.

That leads to what is like a giant drug trial. All drug trials have a group who gets the drug. There is also a control group. They either do not get the drug or get the placebo.

Unvaccinated individuals fall into the control group. We get to compare them to vaccinated individuals to see how effective the vaccine is. 

To this point unvaccinated individuals prove to be 17 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. They are 20 times more likely to die from it.