Cycling for the elderly – Video

I stumbled across this and thought it might interest you. As regular readers know I am a 78-year-old guy who lives in Chicago and rides his bike daily. I am most grateful for the ability to do just that. There are many seniors, perhaps someone in your family, who have lost some mobility. In the course of writing this blog I have become aware of just how damaging a sedentary lifestyle can be. I thought there were some interesting ideas expressed in the video which was produced by the BBC in Britain.

To read further on the effects of a sedentary lifestyle check out the following posts:

Combat that sedentary lifestyle with more movement – Harvard

Fitness over 50 – Overcoming a sedentary lifestyle – Harvard

A physiologic link between heart disease and a sedentary lifestyle

Exercise may help counter health risks of a sedentary lifestyle

Physical activity cuts heart disease risks for seniors – AHA

Tony

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Filed under aging, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart disease, sedentary lifestyle, successful aging

I love my new MINI Cooper …

I was one of the thousands of folks who got a car crush on the MINI Cooper back in 2003 after The Italian Job movie came out and blew so many of us away. The car’s popularity was so great at the time that there was a six month wait for delivery if you ordered one new.

This is from the 2003 release of The Italian Job starring Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg

As I wrote in The MINI Kayaker, I didn’t own a car from 1977 to 2004. I live in downtown Chicago and can walk most places. There is also serviceable public transportation. I could ride my bike sometimes, take cabs or rent a car. One of the reasons I was able to retire at 60 is that I had not spent all that money on cars for so many years.

The movie poster was so much fun that PlayStation2 used it for their Italian Job game.

Getting back to my car crush, the first one I bought was a used 2003 Cooper. It was dark blue, like one of the Italian Job cars.

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Here is the first car I owned in over 20 years. My first MINI.

Over the next seven years, I would own one of each, a red and a white also, the other colors in the film. I bought the turbo-charged MINI Countryman SUV model in 2012.

I shot this at the dealer in 2012. The car on the left is my new Countryman while the car on the right is the Cooper I traded in. I called the new black Countryman my Badmobile.

Sorry for that long lead in, but I have a peculiar history when it comes to cars and I thought that background necessary.

Now to my new MINI! It is also pepper white, but this time around I went for black racing stripes on the hood. I thought they looked cool, but also I am the guy who drives at 55 MPH in the right lane who everybody passes. I thought it was funny to have racing stripes on that car chugging along in the right hand lane.

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My New MINI on the left and the MINI SUV I traded in on the right in the dealer lot.

My new MINI is a revelation to me. I love it because it looks and drives like a toy. In the past six years, the company has increased the size of the car so that it is now as big as the six-year-old SUV model that I traded in.

The innovations are amazing. I have a built-in Navigation system with a female voice talking to me with a British accent. What could be cooler than that? There are all kinds of neat tweaks like if I hit the turn signal lightly it blinks three times to signal a lane change. It doesn’t keep flashing. But the biggest change is that I have downsized the engine. That is, I didn’t get the model with the turbo charger like I had in my last one. This is relevant in that I can now burn regular gas so I save at least 50 cents a gallon every time I fill up. I got 32 miles to a gallon on my MINI SUV, so far, in two weeks it looks like over 40 mpg. I will know with more accuracy as I add miles.

Last but not least is the joy of driving a MINI. It is famed for its bulldog grip on the road. I always the fact that I can accelerate through turns while other drivers are hitting their brakes.

The lack of a turbo charger means a less powerful engine. For a guy like me who drives stick shift that means a lot more fun driving as there is a real reason to change gears. With the more powerful engine, it covered a multitude of sins so I could change gears pretty much any time I felt like it. Not so with this one. I need to change gears much more carefully .

I have to include one last picture because while it is silly and superficial, I find it exciting and fun.

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Above is a shot of my car in my garage. See the MINI logo on the ground? That is light projected from my door whenever I open it. I think that is the coolest thing I have ever seen.

Tony

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Weekend funnies …

Happy Friday, everybody! I hope you have plans for a fun and healthy weekend. Here are some items I found that I hope will put you in a weekend mood.

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Tony

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About that aging brain …

They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, but new research shows you can teach an old rat new sounds, even if the lesson doesn’t stick very long.

For the record I wrote a post on that damaging cliche about teaching old dogs new tricks. You can read it here – Of cats and dogs and cliches ….

Researchers at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) of McGill University examined the effects of aging on neuroplasticity in the primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain that processes auditory information. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to modify its connections and function in response to environmental demands, an important process in learning.

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Plasticity in the young brain is very strong as we learn to map our surroundings using the senses. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

Plasticity in the young brain is very strong as we learn to map our surroundings using the senses. As we grow older, plasticity decreases to stabilize what we have already learned. This stabilization is partly controlled by a neurotransmitter called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits neuronal activity. This role of GABA was discovered by K.A.C. Elliot and Ernst Florey at The Neuro in 1956. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, aging myths, brain, brain exercise, brain function, brain health, successful aging, Uncategorized

Talk like a Pirate Day

I hope this isn’t too late to wish you a Happy Talk like a Pirate Day.

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I couldn’t resist this one.

Tony

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The problem of obesity

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported

  – Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
– In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
– 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
– Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
– 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016.
– Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
– Obesity is preventable.

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What are obesity and overweight

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Continue reading

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Small molecule plays big role in weaker bones as we age

With age, expression of a small molecule that can silence others goes way up while a key signaling molecule that helps stem cells make healthy bone goes down, scientists report.

They have the first evidence in both mouse and human mesenchymal stem cells that this unhealthy shift happens, and that correcting it can result in healthier bone formation.

The small molecule is microRNA-141-3p and the signaling molecule is stromal-cell derived factor, or SDF-1, they report in the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences.

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“If you are 20 years old and making great bone, you would still have microRNA-141-3p in your mesenchymal stem cells. But when you are 81 and making weaker bone, you have a lot more of it,” says Dr. Sadanand Fulzele, bone biologist in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Restoring a more youthful balance could be a novel strategy for reducing age-associated problems likes osteoporosis and the impaired ability to heal bone breaks, says Fulzele, a corresponding author on the study. Continue reading

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Blueberries could help fight Alzheimer’s – ACS

The living longer phrase in my Diet, Exercise and Living Longer title assumes that one has his mental faculties intact. Having seen first hand the scourge of dementia, I don’t want any part of that if I can help it. Exercise is super for combating cognitive problems. Check out my Page – Important facts about your brain – (and exercise benefits) to learn more.

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The blueberry, already labeled a ‘super fruit’ for its power to potentially lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, also could be another weapon in the war against Alzheimer’s disease. New research being presented today further bolsters this idea, which is being tested by many teams. The fruit is loaded with healthful antioxidants, and these substances could help prevent the devastating effects of this increasingly common form of dementia, scientists report.

The researchers presented their work at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS. It featured more than 12,500 presentations on a wide range of science topics. Continue reading

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Weekend Funnies

Herewith the latest results of my web wanderings. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did finding them.

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This bird makes me laugh every time I watch it …

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Have a great weekend!

Tony

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The Zen guide to bicycle commuting – Infographic

Regular readers know that I ride my bicycle regularly here in Chicago. You also know that I am 78 years old and have been retired for nearly two decades. So, why this on commiting? Well, it is about biking which I love. Also, I know that some of you are avid bike riders and thought there may be something worthwhile that you might learn here.

I actually tried bike commuting back when I had a job. It didn’t work out well. I lived about two miles from the office, but I found that riding for that short amount of time proved totally frustrating. I would just get warmed up and start really enjoying the ride and I would be at work. It was kind of like that old potato chip ad – “They’re so good you can’t eat just one.” That’s how I felt. I didn’t want to stop riding and start working. At any rate, I take my hat off to you guys and gals that do have the discipline to ride to work every day. It’s a great way to get your heart pumping. 

 

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Tony

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Exercise linked to improved mental health – The Lancet

More exercise was not always better, and the study found that exercising for 45 minutes three to five times a week was associated with the biggest benefits.

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Riding a bike scored really high in the study

The study included all types of physical activity, ranging from childcare, housework, lawn-mowing and fishing to cycling, going to the gym, running and skiing.

Exercise reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and mortality from all causes, but its association with mental health remains unclear.

Previous research into the effect of exercise on mental health has conflicting results. While some evidence suggests that exercise may improve mental health, the relationship could go both ways – for example inactivity could be a symptom of and contributor to poor mental health, and being active could be a sign of or contribute to resilience. The authors note that their study cannot confirm cause and effect.

 

Continue reading

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Protect your brain from stress – Harvard

While this blog started with a weight control focus, I soon realized that the answer was in living a healthy life, eating intelligently and exercising regularly. Right in harmony with those physical habits, I found that you can’t overlook the mental side of life and expect to succeed. As a result I have written numerous posts on dealing with stress. So, I was very pleased to run across this work on the subject from Harvard Medical School.

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Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

Protect yourself from damaging stress

To better cope with stress, consider how you might minimize factors that make it worse. Here are some tips that can help you better manage stress and hopefully prevent some of the damaging effects it could have on your brain.

Establish some control over your situation. If stress isn’t predictable, focus on controlling the things that are. “Having a routine is good for development and health,” says Dr. Kerry Ressler, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Predictability combats stress.

Get a good night’s sleep. Stress can result in sleep difficulties, and the resulting lack of sleep can make stress worse. “Sleep deprivation makes parts of the brain that handle higher-order functions work less well,” says Dr. Ressler. Having healthy sleep habits can help. This includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding caffeine after noon, and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

Get organized. Using strategies to help manage your workload can also reduce stress. For example, each day, create a concrete list of tasks you need to accomplish. This way, your duties won’t seem overwhelming. Making a list also gives you a clear end point so you know when you are done. “Laying tasks out like this helps reduce the feeling that the brain is being bombarded,” he says. It can also help you predict when you are likely to be stressed.

Get help if you need it. Reaching out can help you become more resilient and better able to manage stress, which may ultimately protect your brain health. Earlier intervention may reduce disability caused by stress-related complications later on.

Change your attitude toward stress. “A life without stress is not only impossible, but also would likely be pretty uninteresting — in fact, a certain degree of stress is helpful for growth,” says Dr. Ressler. So, rather than striving for no stress, strive for healthier responses to stress.

Following is a link for my Page – How to deal with stress which will give you further tools.

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Lack of exercise damages us – WHO Report

Eat less; move more; live longer. The World Health Organization agrees. Following are the potential results of inadequate exercise for all age groups, according to the WHO.

– Insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for death worldwide.
– Insufficient physical activity is a key risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
– Physical activity has significant health benefits and contributes to prevent NCDs.
– Globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough.
– More than 80% of the world’s adolescent population is insufficiently physically active.
– Policies to address insufficient physical activity are operational in 56% of WHO Member States.

WHO Member States have agreed to reduce insufficient physical activity by 10% by 2025.

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What is physical activity?

WHO defines physical activity as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure – including activities undertaken while working, playing, carrying out household chores, travelling, and engaging in recreational pursuits.

The term “physical activity” should not be confused with “exercise”, which is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness. Beyond exercise, any other physical activity that is done during leisure time, for transport to get to and from places, or as part of a person’s work, has a health benefit. Further, both moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity improve health.

How much of physical activity is recommended? Continue reading

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Smoking linked to higher dementia risk – Study

I feel very strongly about smoking. This is one of those Captain Obvious things to me. It astounds me that anyone who can read will continue to smoke.

The following is excerpted from my Page – How many ways does smoking harm you? Check it out for chapter and verse on the multi-faceted damage that smoking does to your body.

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Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable cause of death in the United States.

On average people who smoke die about 10 years sooner than non-smokers. The New England Journal of Medicine.

Smoking triples the risk for cataracts and is also a risk factor for macular degeneration and its response to treatment. Dr. Nicholas Volpe, Tarry Professor and Chairman Department of Opthalmology Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University

The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014 about 224,000 new cases of lung cancer and 159,260 cancer deaths caused by tobacco use. The overall survival rate for those with lung cancer, sadly, remains at around 15%. You have less than one chance in six of surviving. Continue reading

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain damage, dementia, impact of quitting smoking, smoking, Smoking dangers

Weekend Funnies …

Incredibly, I stumbled across all of these on Thursday. Enjoy! This is yet another of the joys of retirement. See how much you have to look forward to…

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Have a great weekend!

Tony

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10 Warning signs of dementia – Infographic

You don’t have to be a senior to suffer from cognitive impairment. Here are some hopefully helpful hints for self-assessment from the Alzheimer’s Association.

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