Take a brisk walk - it's good for your brain

To stay in shape, you've got to exercise.

Staying active is also a good way to stay mentally sharp. A growing body of research shows that exercise can help reduce the risk of dementia.

"People who exercise actually have less shrinkage in the area of the brain that controls memory," said Dr. Michael Chun, a neurologist at The Everett Clinic.

He's talking about the hippoocampus, a part of the brain located right next to the ear.

"We found that with all patients with Alzheimer's disease, this area of the brain shrinks," he expalined. "People who exercise regularly, they have less shrinkage, so this argues strongly that exercise reduces the chances of Alzheimer's disease."

Dr. Chun says you don't have to run marathons to get those brain benefits. All it takes is some brisk walking.

"Something that is sustained, that is at least 15 minutes, better longer, like 20 minutes, and something that takes a little bit of effort," he said. "You should be a little winded, maybe you sweat a little under the collar. But it has to be sustained and it would be nice to get your heart rate up as well."

For more information, contact the Alzheimer's Association of Western Washington or call their 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900.