Preserve the reserve…

gymnast  How many of us have heard of Cognitive Reserve?  I hadn’t.  Even if I had, I’d have said, “what does it have to do with diet or fitness?  Turns out, quite a bit.

Cognitive Reserve is a term applied in my clinical neurology class, to sustainable brain function.  The theory is simple–the more physically & mentally active you are, the less likely you will fall victim to any of the dementia related diseases.  Possibly up to and including Alzheimer’s.

Yes, Alzheimer’s is more complex in presentation than shrinking cells.  It is characterized by a few hallmarks; one specifically is a protein called tau.  However, it does begin with a shrinkage in the temporal lobe, then progresses.  Short term memory loss is the initial symptom, while long-term memory is preserved.  Atrophy of the brain (decompensation, and yes more shrinkage) then takes place.

Dementia/dementia related diseases have accompanying risk factors.  While some theoretically we can do little about, like familial history, many we can.  These include hypertension, diabetes, and to a large extent, cardiovascular disease.

Cognitive Reserve can help with these too.  Its principle makes sense.  The more educated you become, the more you challenge yourself with learning new tasks, and the more physically active you are, as you age, the “reserve” actually “preserves” your brain function.

Think about it.  Chances are you will be exercising and choosing foods which will keep your body strong–the better informed you are.  New information you digest and assimilate, helps keep your mind focused.  A focused mind is agile, stays current, and will not go gently into the night.  A body engaged in consistent physical activity, in turn, strengthens all muscle cells; not just those in your pecs or abs.

Rolling out of bed early to exercise is an inherent challenge; to us all.  But the next time the thought of leaving that warmth an hour early leaves you cold, consider this highly educated, difficult to discern medical advice.  Move it or lose it.

All for now.  Keep up and keep at it.

Need personalized guidance?  Contact me at

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