Move Your Thumbs to Prevent Dementia and Stabilize Blood Pressure

Exercising your thumbs can help prevent dementia (Image: Screenshot from Good Morning Health video)
Exercising your thumbs can help prevent dementia (Image: Screenshot from Good Morning Health video)

According to the Alzheimer’s Association (, dementia is not a specific disease. It’s an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common type of dementia.

Memory loss and other symptoms of dementia

While symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, at least two of the following core mental functions must be significantly impaired for the condition to be considered dementia:

  • Memory
  • Communication and language
  • Ability to focus and pay attention
  • Reasoning and judgment
  • Visual perception

People with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning and preparing meals, remembering appointments, or traveling out of the neighborhood. Many dementias are progressive, meaning, that the symptoms start out slowly and get gradually worse.

According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), there were 36 million people suffering from dementia in 2010, which will triple to 115 million in 2050.

Dementia is an important issue because it will seriously damage your quality of life and bring huge burdens to your family. The disease usually lasts for 5-10 years or even 25 years on rare occasions.

The thumb is very important in daily life. We use it to hold, push, pinch, and turn everyday items. Movements of the hand, especially those of the thumb, will stimulate the brain in many areas. Dr. Hasegawa Katsuya, a specialist in dementia, pointed out that you can stimulate the brain by moving your thumbs in a way that can increase the blood flow to the brain by 1.5 fold and prevent dementia, boost memory, and help keep your blood pressure steady.

How to exercise the thumb

According to the website of “Good Morning Health,” you can do thumb exercises this way:

  1. Sit on a chair, open both hands, and keep them flat like a piece of cloth.
  2. Clench both fists with only the right thumb pointing out (hide the left thumb in the fist).
  3. Open the fists and keep them flat like a piece of cloth.

(Do the previous movements alternatively with both hands)

  1. Clench both fists with only the left thumb pointing out.
  2. Open the fists like they were a piece of cloth.
  3. Do the exercise 5 times on each side to make a session. Four sessions a day can effectively prevent dementia.


Multiple approaches to prevent dementia

Dr. Henry Brodaty, ex-chairman of Alzheimer’s Disease International, stressed that important ways to prevent dementia include avoiding physical impact to the head, increasing interactions with other people, regular exercise, regular mental activities, and appropriate diet. The following conceptions are important to understand dementia correctly:

  1. Prevention has to be carried out in multiple ways.
  2. Prevention is meant to decrease or delay the occurrence of dementia, but not to cure it.
  3. Multiple approaches to prevent dementia can also decrease the risks of cardiovascular diseases and vascular dementia.

Read more about how to move your thumbs to prevent dementia, boost memory, and stabilize blood pressure in the original Chinese article.

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