As part of our commitment to keeping our readers updated on the latest research and findings on Alzheimer’s disease, we are sharing a study from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. While exercise is known to be a critical factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there is growing evidence to indicate it may also be good for the brain.
Exercise May Be Linked to Improved Brain Health
The study by Dr. J. Carson Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is the first research trial to demonstrate how exercise can be used as an intervention technique for older adults who live with a mild cognitive impairment.
The trial showed that exercise not only improves memory recall but also improved brain function. Physically inactive older adults ranging in age from 60-88 years old were divided in to two groups. The average age of study participants was 78. One group was comprised of older adults living with mild cognitive impairment and the other with normal, healthy brain function. Each group followed a 12-week program of regular treadmill walking. Exercise was supervised by a personal trainer.
By the end of the study, both groups had improved their cardiovascular fitness by about ten percent. They also improved their memory performance and showed improvements in neural efficiency when involved in memory retrieval tasks.
The Bottom Line on Exercise for Alzheimer’s Prevention
The bottom line is that the amount of exercise participants engaged in during the trial isn’t overly aggressive. It is the same recommendation most physicians are already making to patients. That is, you should get 30 minutes of moderate exercise (that which raises your heart rate but allows you to maintain a conversation) five days a week.
Just one more reason to lace up your sneakers and head out for a walk each day!
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Falls continue to be one of the leading causes of fatal injuries for older adults in this country. It is why finding ways to prevent them continues to be a focus of so many aging-related researchers. One study that might be of interest to our readers was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June. The article, Effect of Structured Physical Activity on Prevention of Major Mobility Disability in Older Adults, explored how walking might help seniors beat or decrease their odds of being injured in a fall.
What Role Does Walking Play in Fall Prevention?
The goal of the project was to evaluate the potential link between older adults levels of physical activity and the role exercise could play in preventing disability. While seniors are often afraid a more active lifestyle will increase their odds of experiencing a disabling fall, this study took the opposite approach. Researchers posed a different question. Could higher levels of daily physical activity be considered a sound fall prevention practice?
The two-year long study was made up of 1,635 people between the ages of 70 and 89 years of age. Older adults chosen to participate in the project were considered to be sedentary by scoring low on a senior fitness scale. Each of them was able to walk one-quarter of a mile unassisted when the study began.
During the trial:
- Participants came to a research center once a month for education on a variety of topics related to healthy aging.
- A sub-group of participants was randomly assigned to also participate in a twice-weekly fitness program at the center. This group underwent supervised stretching activities and walks. In addition to the organized exercise activities, members of this sub-group also exercised on their own three hours each week.
- Every trial study member was assessed twice each year during the study to see if they could still complete a quarter-mile walk.
At the study’s conclusion, researchers found that those who were also enrolled in the exercise subgroup were 18% less likely to have suffered any short-term physical disability during the trial and 28% less likely to have had a permanent disability.
Talk with Your Primary Care Physician First
If you or a senior loved one lead a sedentary lifestyle, the results of this study should be motivation for making a change. Talk with your primary care physician first. Ask them for their help in determining the safest way to begin increasing your level of physical activity.
Heritage Senior Communities is pleased to announce that our newest community is set to open this month in Holland, Michigan. The Village at Appledorn West will offer adults over the age of 55 one- and two-bedroom independent living apartments. The campus will also be expanded to include assisted living in the spring of 2015.
More than 46 million people in this country live with arthritis. 300,000 children also live with the disease. It can have a debilitating effect on those who suffer from it. In addition to the physical toll it takes on those who live with this diagnosis are the financial consequences. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that arthritis and complications from the disease add up to over $124 billion each year. Those numbers include the cost of care, lost wages, and other related expenses. There are a variety of forms of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis (OA). As cold weather makes its return to Michigan, the symptoms of OA often worsen.
What can you do to help a Michigan senior you love find ways to treat joint pain that doesn’t involve medication?
Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis Pain during a Michigan Winter
Inflammation in the joints can be incredibly painful. While exercising is one of the best ways to prevent inflammation and stiffness, the bone-on-bone contact arthritis creates can make it too painful to move.
Here are a few natural remedies that might help you or your senior loved one enjoy a better quality of life this winter:
- Monitor your diet. Everything from toxins in the air to stress and sugar can contribute to inflammation. It is nearly impossible to avoid it all. There are some foods, however, that have been proven to help fight inflammation. A few healthier ones include raisins, kale, sweet potatoes, ginger, cherries and walnuts.
- No impact exercise. One of the best ways to prevent swelling in your joints is to stay active. There are no-impact exercises that still provide a full range of motion workout. Some suggestions to consider are water aerobics, tai chi and chair yoga.
- Alternating hot and cold. Arthritis suffers often find that alternating cold packs with hot ones can provide relief. The heat source can help decrease stiffness in the joints while the cold pack can help with the pain and swelling.
- Hand and finger dexterity. For many with arthritis, joints in their fingers and hands are the most painful. There are several inexpensive products that can help. You can purchase a home paraffin wax machine for under $30 that will help relieve joint pain. Another way to keep joints in the hands limber is to take part in activities that require dexterity such as playing cards, sewing, drawing, and knitting.
We hope these remedies to help decrease the pain and symptoms arthritis sufferers in Michigan experience during the winter!