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Exercise, Cholesterol, And Dementia: How Are They Related?




As we age, there are many aspects of our health that can potentially decline. 

Thankfully, from physical to emotional, and even mental health, exercise boasts many benefits to these areas that are easily obtained when we simply move our bodies.

Specifically, exercise can improve the health of your brain and keep your cholesterol levels healthy! 

But, is there any connection between those two exercise induced improvements? 

As elevated cholesterol levels have been linked to deteriorating brain function, this begs the question: If there is a link between exercise and lowered cholesterol levels, and there is a link between cholesterol levels and cognitive functioning, can we accurately theorize that exercise could potentially benefit brain function, even decreasing the risk of dementia? 

Let’s find out…

Exercise And Cholesterol

We’re all familiar with what is meant by exercise, or physical activity, but what exactly is cholesterol? 

Cholesterol is a substance, often described as waxy, that is used by your body to make vitamins and hormones, build cells, and help guide nerve endings. 

But, as cholesterol moves through your blood, if there is too much LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, it can bind with other substances to build up within your arteries making them hard and ultimately increasing your risk of both heart attack and stroke. 

Exercise, thankfully, works to increase the size of the proteins that work to carry cholesterol through your blood. And, it also stimulates specific enzymes tasked with moving LDL cholesterol to your liver, where it is then converted to bile and excreted. 

Even better, studies show that those people who participate regularly in vigorous exercise effectively increase their levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) as well, which works to remove cholesterol from the blood. 

So, clearly exercise has benefits pertaining to keeping good and bad cholesterol at healthy levels, but how does it affect brain function, specifically dementia? 

Before we can look at this potential link, let’s explore the effects of cholesterol on the brain…

Cholesterol And Dementia

The term dementia is used to describe a group of medical conditions and disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease) all stemming from abnormal changes that occur within the brain. 

When these changes take place, dementia sufferers experience symptoms severe enough to alter their daily lives, such as: 

  • Loss of memory
  • Slowed thinking
  • Difficulty communicating 
  • Decreased problem solving skills
  • Diminished motor control or coordination
  • Confusion
  • Decreased ability to focus

Due to these changes, dementia can also cause a person to experience changes in their personality or behavior, including depression, increased agitation, anxiety, paranoia, and even hallucinations. 

All of these symptoms and changes are thought to be caused by damage to nerve cells in the brain, leading to a loss of connectivity between these cells. 

So then, how does cholesterol fit into the puzzling question of: “what causes this nerve cell damage within the brain?” 

And…this is where it gets tricky. 

As we already briefly mentioned, cholesterol helps to guide nerve endings, making it a needed element of healthy brain function. 

However, cholesterol can cause a build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid, which causes the formation of amyloid plaque, a commonality present in the brains of dementia sufferers. 

And, the presence of this build up is thought to be the link to why research consistently proves that high cholesterol levels, especially throughout the middle stages of life, can greatly increase a person’s risk of developing dementia (particularly Alzheimer’s disease) later in life.  

In fact, high levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol have been found to negatively affect even general cognitive function, with those people with high LDL cholesterol reporting problems with memory and/or memorization. 

So then, after all the gloom and doom, how about some good news? 

Thankfully, recent studies have found a promising solution for the changes within the brain associated with dementia! 

Exercise And Dementia: The Science

Most all kinds of exercise have been noted for their benefit to the body. 

From improvements to the health of your heart, to weight loss and better weight management, to even your emotional health, regular exercise is a needful part of a healthy lifestyle! 

And, as physical activity also boasts benefits to the health of your brain, researchers have delved deeper into this notion, leading to some promising findings regarding aerobic exercise and a decreased risk of dementia. 

Exercise Benefits The Hippocampus

A recent year-long study found that aerobic exercise helps to slow the shrinkage of the part of the brain associated with memory (the hippocampus).

Comparing brain function and brain size in two groups of sedentary, aged adults with current memory problems, a team of researchers explored whether exercise worked to improve or prevent neurocognitive function.  

The team also studied the effects of such exercise on both brain atrophy and the amyloid build up often present in dementia patients. 

Within this study, one group of participants engaged in aerobic exercise for roughly 30 minutes, 4-5 times a week, while the other group only did flexibility training. 

And, while both groups preserved cognitive function regarding memory and problem solving, it was the group who regularly engaged in aerobic exercise that gained benefit to the portion of the brain associated with memory, experiencing less shrinkage in their hippocampus. 

The team of scientists here believe that the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise may be the reason for this added benefit, theorizing the improvements to vascular health extend to the health of the brain as well. 

And, other research regarding the effects of exercise on the body back up these findings! 

Exercise Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects On The Brain

A recent study published in Nature detailed the effects of exercise on the health of the brain specifically looking at how physical activity causes the release of anti-inflammatory molecules.

Here, researchers studied two groups of mice, one group was freely permitted to exercise on an exercise wheel over the course of a month, while the other group had their exercise wheel locked, preventing such activity. 

After 30 days, the exercising mice were observed to have more neurons in their hippocampus than those mice who were sedentary. 

Then, the study was furthered when a third group of mice were also forced to be sedentary for the span of a month, afterwards being infused with the blood plasma of the mice from either the sedentary or active group. 

The results? Those mice infused with the blood plasma of the active mice all performed better in a series of cognitive tests than those mice infused with the blood of the sedentary mice. 

Pairing these findings with a similar study from UC San Francisco, researchers have singled out a protein known as clusterin, which they believe effectively provides needed anti-inflammatory properties specifically targeting the brain (brain inflammation).

To test this belief, the team:

  • removed clusterin from the blood of the active mice and miraculously, the prior benefits to the sedentary mice infused with this blood ceased to be
  • administered clusterin by itself and signs of brain inflammation in the neuro-affected mice were diminished

 Ah, but how did these research findings involving mice work out when tested in humans? 

Evaluating data collected from a six month study on 20 veterans with mild cognitive impairment, researchers found those participants who exercised three times per week had higher levels of clusterin in their blood and showed improvements when memory was tested. 

And, while these findings do not mean that clusterin is, or will be, a cure all for dementia, they do show an interesting link between regular physical activity and improvements in memory and decreasing hippocampus shrinkage. 

Conclusion – Exercise, Cholesterol, And Dementia

So, what do we know for sure: 

  • It is true that high cholesterol levels can increase one’s risk of dementia. 
  • It is proven that exercise can improve cholesterol levels. 
  • We know that exercise can improve brain function and prevent cognitive decline.

And, what looks promising: 

  • Exercise seems to not only lower cholesterol levels, but may protect against dementia. 
  • Specific proteins (clusterin) produced through aerobic exercise have the potential to reduce cognitive decline and lower the risk of dementia. 

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Exploring the Role of the Health Belief Model in Preventative Health Behaviors



Preventative health behaviors are essential for maintaining overall well-being and preventing the onset of various illnesses and diseases. One model that has been widely used to explain and promote these behaviors is the Health Belief Model (HBM). The HBM is a psychological model that was originally developed in the 1950s by social psychologists Hochbaum, Rosenstock, and Kegels. It aims to explain and predict health behaviors by taking into account individual beliefs and perceptions.

The HBM is based on the premise that individuals are more likely to take action to prevent or control a health issue if they believe that they are susceptible to the issue, that it is severe, that taking action will be beneficial, and that they are capable of taking the necessary steps. These four key elements are known as perceived susceptibility, perceived severity, perceived benefits, and perceived barriers, respectively.

Perceived susceptibility refers to an individual’s belief about their personal risk of developing a particular health issue. For example, someone who believes that they are at high risk of developing heart disease may be more likely to engage in preventative behaviors such as exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet.

Perceived severity is the individual’s belief about the seriousness of the health issue. If someone believes that the consequences of not taking action to prevent a particular health issue are severe, they may be more motivated to engage in preventative behaviors.

Perceived benefits refer to the individual’s belief that taking action to prevent or control the health issue will be effective in reducing the risk. If someone believes that exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet will help to lower their risk of developing heart disease, they may be more likely to engage in these behaviors.

Perceived barriers are the obstacles that may prevent an individual from taking action to prevent or control a health issue. These barriers may be financial, logistical, or psychological. For example, someone may be deterred from exercising regularly due to a lack of time or access to a gym.

The HBM has been applied to a wide range of preventative health behaviors, including cancer screenings, vaccinations, and healthy lifestyle choices. Research has shown that individuals who have higher levels of perceived susceptibility, severity, benefits, and lower levels of barriers are more likely to engage in preventative health behaviors.

Healthcare providers and public health professionals can use the HBM to design interventions and communication strategies that promote preventative health behaviors. By addressing and changing individuals’ beliefs and perceptions, these interventions can help to increase motivation and enable people to take action to protect their health.

In conclusion, the Health Belief Model is a valuable framework for understanding and promoting preventative health behaviors. By considering individuals’ beliefs and perceptions about their health, healthcare providers can design effective interventions that motivate and empower people to take control of their well-being. The HBM plays a crucial role in shaping public health strategies and encouraging individuals to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent the onset of diseases and illnesses.

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How to Perform CPR Fast and Effectively




( – EVERYONE HAS SEEN THE tense moments in movies where someone collapses, and someone else dashes to the scene to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

One crucial action, such as retrieving an automated external defibrillator (AED), can make the difference between life and death. This action is typically not given much emphasis.

Follow these life-saving steps immediately:

Step 1: Check the Scene

Check to see if the person is alright by tapping them and asking if there are any chemical spills or downed electrical lines.

Step 2: Check for Breathing

Proceed to the next step immediately if they are not breathing or are only sometimes gasping for air.

Step 3: Call 911 and Grab the AED

Tell anyone close to perform these actions so that you can start CPR. Gordon Tomaselli, M.D., a former president of the American Heart Association, advises skipping the AED and beginning compressions as soon as possible if you have to search for the device that shocks the heart back into rhythm.

Step 4: Start CPR

Use the AED first if it’s nearby: When an AED shock is administered within the first minute of a cardiac arrest, nine out of ten victims survive. Perform chest compressions until aid comes if an AED is not available.

Compressions can increase the chances of survival by two or three times if performed in the first few minutes after cardiac arrest.

How to Do Chest Compressions: Place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest, precisely at the nipple line, while kneeling next to the individual to perform chest compressions.

Put the other one on top of the initial one. Put your fingers together. Locked elbows, apply force quickly. Compress between 100 and 120 times per minute; this is the beat of “Stayin’ Alive.”

Each time, delve two inches deeper.

Step 5: Follow the AED’s Instructions

The AED’s audio instructions walk you through every stage of using it after you turn it on. All you have to do is listen and answer. The instructions will tell you how to position the electrode pads and whether you should click the button to shock someone.

They also recommend restarting CPR if a shock is ineffective.

Step 6: Continue CPR

Hands-only CPR is equally successful in the initial minutes following cardiac arrest in adults and teenagers as it is when combined with rescue breathing.

Continue until your breathing returns, assistance comes, or you cannot continue.

If you are faced with a situation where someone near you requires CPR, follow the step-by-step guide below to potentially save a life.

Copyright 2024.

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Your 4-Week Plan for Better Mental Wellness




( – Everything in your day to day and your life is impacted by your mental health. There are other options outside therapy, medication, and even meditation to maximize it.

You can do many little things to improve your mental health, remove obstacles in your path, and achieve your life goals.

Being happy with your mental health does not imply that you never experience terrible days. It means you can handle those days with more extraordinary fortitude and less effort.

And perhaps you can figure out how to prepare yourself for even fewer of them down the road.

This four-week strategy helps you do things differently, think outside the box, overcome obstacles, and feel joy and amazement. In essence, it improves your mental health.

Week 1: Take a Breather

Day 1: Pause for a Minute

Take a moment to ground yourself by noticing 5 things you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell, and 1 you can taste.

Day 2: Focus on Your Breath

Practice 4-7-8 breathing: inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Repeat a few times to relax.

Day 3: Let Your Mind Wander

Sit quietly without distractions, allowing your mind to relax and think positively, boosting creativity and mood.

Day 4: Embrace JOMO

Limit social media use and enjoy the joy of missing out (JOMO). Focus on what matters to you rather than online content.

Day 5: Get Some Rest

Prioritize sleep by setting a bedtime, keeping your room cool, and avoiding screens before bed.

Week 2: Ask a Question a Day

Day 1: What’s Going Well?

Focus on what’s working well to boost positivity and well-being.

Day 2: How Will This Decision Affect Me?

Consider the short-, medium-, and long-term consequences of your decisions to reduce anxiety.

Day 3: How Am I Feeling Right Now, Really?

Identify and understand your genuine emotions without labeling them as good or bad.

Day 4: What’s Possible Today?

Adapt to daily challenges by asking what’s achievable rather than striving for perfection.

Day 5: What Can I Let Go Of?

Identify and start letting go of negative self-talk or unhealthy relationships.

Week 3: Fuel Your Mood with Food

Day 1: Eat a Day’s Worth of Greens in One Meal

Incorporate two cups of leafy greens, such as spinach or kale, into your diet for mental and physical benefits.

Day 2: Sample the Rainbow

Eat various colorful fruits and vegetables to boost optimism and reduce stress.

Day 3: Dive Into Seafood

Include fatty fish like salmon for omega-3s and vitamin D, which support brain health.

Day 4: Shift Your Snacks

Choose nuts like almonds or walnuts to nourish your brain with essential nutrients.

Day 5: Add Friends

Share meals with friends to enhance mental wellness through social connections.

Week 4: Use These Mind Hacks

Day 1: Embrace Uncertainty

Accepting what you can’t control helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Day 2: Plan for Hurdles

Prepare for daily challenges to stay balanced and resilient.

Day 3: Change Your Language

Reframe negative emotions by noting them as feelings rather than defining yourself by them.

Day 4: Balance Your Negativity with Positivity

Counter negative thoughts with positive ones to improve mental well-being.

Day 5: Be Amazed

Experience awe through nature, art, or inspiring talks to boost creativity and mood.

Mental health impacts how we think, behave, and feel. It’s closely tied to physical health, and nearly everyone faces mental health challenges at some point.

This 30-day plan offers simple daily changes to help reduce stress and anxiety, enhancing mental well-being and resilience.

Copyright 2024.

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