Category Archives: aging

Seniors – Raise fitness level; Improve brain function – KU

Science Daily reported that a professor of neurology at Kansas University (KU) Alzheimer’s Disease Center, led a six-month trial conducted with healthy adults ages 65 and older who showed no signs of cognitive decline.

The randomized controlled trial attempted to determine the ideal amount of exercise necessary to achieve benefits to the brain.

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Before proceeding, I would like to add that I am now in my sixth year of writing this blog. To continue that long at a healthy pace (+2500 posts) you have to be motivated and get positive feedback.

Reading about this new study on exercise benefiting the brain was extraordinarily positive feedback. I have written about the benefits of exercise and the brain for several years. You can check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise) for more details. Suffice it to say that the KU report was most welcome. Continue reading

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Filed under aging, aging brain, brain, brain function, Exercise, exercise benefits, successful aging

Tips on living a longer life – WebMD

Regular readers know that I am a big fan of WebMD. I often quote from them to share ideas with readers. They have just run an item on living longer that has some wonderful suggestions. By no small coincidence, I have also included many of the same suggestions in this blog over the past nine plus years. However, here are a few that were new to me:

Profiles of two partners looking at each other while arm wrestling

Profiles of two partners looking at each other while arm wrestling

“Be Conscientious – An 80-year study found one of the best predictors of a long life is a conscientious personality. Researchers measured attributes like attention to detail and persistence. They found that conscientious people do more things to protect their health and make choices that lead to stronger relationships and better careers. “

As a person who considers himself to be conscientious I was happy to learn that it may be instrumental in my living longer.

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Of cats and dogs and cliches …

I thought this was a good subject to write about three years ago and I still think so. I hope you will agree.

One Regular Guy Writing about Food, Exercise and Living Past 100

I was reading this morning and ran into the cliche you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I have to tell you that this is one particularly annoying expression to me. This is another of the general negativity directed toward seniors.

By the time I retired, I had become something of an expert on markets. After 20 years spent writing about international markets for Reuters News Service I went on to write for the Investments Department of a major philanthropic organization. The final five years of my working life I actually managed the investment of $900 million in the debt market.

c2c616d5ae15f2c08c080737b4ea8d7d.jpgWho says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

After retiring, at the age of 70, I started writing this blog. It had nothing to do with markets or the economy. The primary focus was weight loss in the beginning, but after taking a number of…

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How to boost brain health and fight Alzheimer’s

At the risk of being repetitious, I just wanted to pass along some good information on keeping your brain intact while you are pursuing a life of healthy eating and regular exercise. That’s why you’re reading this blog, right?

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The seven guidelines to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease are:

  • Minimize your intake of saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fat is found primarily in dairy products, meats, and certain oils (coconut and palm oils). Trans fats are found in many snack pastries and fried foods and are listed on labels as “partially hydrogenated oils.”
  • Eat plant-based foods. Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.
  • Consume 15 milligrams of vitamin E, from foods, each day. Vitamin E should come from foods, rather than supplements. Healthful food sources of vitamin E include seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Note: The RDA for vitamin E is 15 milligrams per day.
  • Take a B12 supplement. A reliable source of B12, such as fortified foods or a supplement providing at least the recommended daily allowance (2.4 micrograms per day for adults), should be part of your daily diet. Note: Have your blood levels of vitamin B12 checked regularly as many factors, including age, impair absorption.
  • Avoid vitamins with iron and copper. If using multivitamins, choose those without iron and copper, and consume iron supplements only when directed by your physician.
  • Choose aluminum-free products. While aluminum’s role in Alzheimer’s disease remains a matter of investigation, those who desire to minimize their exposure can avoid the use of cookware, antacids, baking powder, or other products that contain aluminum.
  • Exercise for 120 minutes each week. Include aerobic exercise in your routine, equivalent to 40 minutes of brisk walking, three times per week.

Other preventive measures, such as getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night and participating in 30 to 40 minutes of mental activity most days of the week, such as completing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, or learning a new language, can only help boost brain health.

Before you leave, just wanted to pass on a reminder about my Page – Important facts about your brain – and exercise benefits.

Tony

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Exercise, but respect the weather

As regular readers know, I feel strongly about the great outdoors, savoring the experience of it as well as actually exercising outside. Summer is taking its time arriving this year. We are still getting 50F temps this week in Chicago. But the heat is coming. You can count on it.

man running beside street

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In view of the upcoming warm temps, I wanted to remind you of my Page – How to deal with extreme heat for lots more examples.

Meanwhile the Go4Life folks offer the following excellent suggestions for heat extremes:

• Walk on the treadmill, ride the stationary bike, or use the rowing machine that’s gathering dust in your bedroom or basement. Or use one at a nearby gym or fitness center.
• Work out with an exercise DVD. You can get a free one from Go4Life.
• Go bowling with friends.
• Join a local mall walking group.
• Walk around an art gallery or museum to catch a new exhibit.
• Check out an exercise class at your neighborhood Y.
• If you like dancing, take a Zumba® or salsa class.
• Try yoga or Tai Chi.
• Go to the gym and work on your strength, balance, and flexibility exercises or set up your own home gym. All you need is a sturdy chair, a towel, and some weights. Soup cans or water bottles will do if you don’t have your own set of weights.
• Go to an indoor pool and swim laps or try water aerobics
• How about a game of indoor tennis, hockey, basketball, or soccer?
• Go indoor ice skating or roller skating.
• Maybe it’s time for some heavy duty cleaning. Vacuum, mop, sweep. Dust those hard-to-reach areas.

Tony

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Growth hormone, athletic performance, and aging – Harvard

Can human growth hormones really benefit aging, like the elusive fountain of youth? In 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Len arrived in Florida to search for the fountain of youth. If he got any benefit from his quest, it was due to the exercise involved in the search.

people doing marathon

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Few men today believe in miraculous waters, but many, it seems, believe in the syringe of youth. Instead of drinking rejuvenating waters, they inject human growth hormone to slow the tick of the clock. Some are motivated by the claims of the “anti-aging” movement, others by the examples of young athletes seeking a competitive edge. Like Ponce de Len, the athletes still get the benefit of exercise, while older men may use growth hormone shots as a substitute for working out. But will growth hormone boost performance or slow aging? And is it safe?

What is human growth hormone?

Growth hormone (GH) is a small protein that is made by the pituitary gland and secreted into the bloodstream. GH production is controlled by a complex set of hormones produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and in the intestinal tract and pancreas. Continue reading

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Breaking down barriers to exercise

Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. Like so many good ideas, it is simple, but not easy. Herewith some suggestions from The National Institute on Aging.

Exercise is good for almost everyone, but there are so many things that can get in the way of staying active. It’s time for some positive thinking. No more excuses!

woman in white cap shirt on stability ball

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Here are some tips to help you overcome those barriers and improve your health. Continue reading

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How do you feel about aging?

Asking your opinion on aging is not just an idle query. Does aging mean decline and disability to you? Or do you consider aging to be a time of opportunity and growth?

According to the Wall Street Journal, your attitude about aging plays a key role in how well you actually experience getting older.

“In test after test, researchers are finding that if we think about getting older in terms of decline or disability, our health likely will suffer. If, on the other hand, we see aging in terms of opportunity and growth, our bodies respond in kind,” Anne Tergesen wrote in the WSJ.

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The good news is that there is a real physical and mental upside to aging with positive attitudes. On the other hand, negative stereotypes which are pervasive in America can do serious harm to all concerned. Continue reading

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Does solo living raise mental health risk?

Full disclosure. I am a senior who lives alone. I do have a girlfriend and a dog whom I consider to be constant companions, so that may temper the damage of living solo as reported by Medical News Today.

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A new study has concluded that living alone is linked to common mental disorders. The authors have also identified the main driver of this worrying relationship.

Some common mental disorders (CMDs) include mood disorders, anxiety, and substance use disorders.

According to some studies, almost one-third of people will experience a CMD in their lifetime.

These conditions can have a significant impact on the individual, of course, but due to their high prevalence, they also affect society at large.

Due to the widespread influence of CMDs, scientists are keen to understand the full range of risk factors that feed into mental health.

In recent years, scientists have investigated whether living alone might be one such risk factor. Continue reading

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Creativity is not just for the young – study

If you believe that great scientists are most creative when they’re young, you are missing part of the story.

A new study of winners of the Nobel Prize in economics finds that there are two different life cycles of creativity, one that  hits some people early in their career and another that more often strikes later in life.

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In this study, the early peak was found for laureates in their mid-20s and the later peak for those in their mid-50s.

The research supports previous work by the authors that found similar patterns in the arts and other sciences.

“We believe what we found in this study isn’t limited to economics, but could apply to creativity more generally,” said Bruce Weinberg, lead author of the study and professor of economics at The Ohio State University. Continue reading

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Update on my surgery and biking …

I am now past one week since my oral surgery and feel like I am recovering nicely, thank you. You can read details of the operation here. One of the most difficult aspects of being 79 is that I don’t have a lot of people that I can share experiences with to give me a perspective on mine. In the past few days I have managed three bike rides. It took more than four days to feel that I had enough energy to ride at all. I had to wonder is that normal (for someone 79)? None of my bike riding friends is within decades of my age. I can only go by how my own body feels.

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Gabi and me a couple of years ago.

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Tufts on the benefits of walking

I have written repeatedly about the health benefits of walking. For a good rundown, check out my Page – Why you should walk more. Herewith further elucidation on the benefits of what I call ‘the Cinderella of the exercise world-‘ walking from Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter.

four people walking while holding each others arms

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Did you get your 10,000 steps today? Many people have adopted this daily walking goal to obtain the recommended amount of physical activity. The 10,000-steps-a-day number comes from the Japanese brand name of a pedometer manufactured in the 1960s, the “10,000 steps meter.” In the Fitbit era, counting daily steps remains appealing to many people as a source of motivation.

In the U.S., adults are urged to get the equivalent of 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Walking is a popular way to meet those recommendations, particularly in older adults or people who are relatively physically inactive.

Although 10,000 steps is a worthy challenge, aiming for more exercise than you normally get—unless you are one of the few who regularly trains for marathons or triathlons—comes with benefits. Any amount or type of physical activity adds to your daily goal. Regularly taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking farther away from your destination, can make a measurable improvement in your health.

A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that the benefits of walking on longevity were equivalent whether people got their steps in one long walk, a few shorter ones, or even brief walk breaks of a few minutes—as long as the physical activity was regular.

Preserving Mobility: Among the most important benefits of walking for older adults is preserving physical mobility—the ability to walk without assistance. In 2014, a study involving Tufts researchers called Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial provided evidence for the benefits of physical activity in older adults at risk of immobility and disability and other associated health problems.

“This study, for the first time, showed conclusively that a regular program of physical activity can preserve independence among older men and women,” says Roger A. Fielding, PhD, director of the HNRCA Nutrition, Exercise, Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory, who led the Tufts portion of the study.

The LIFE trial was designed to test the ability of physical activity to prevent major mobility disability, defined as the inability to walk for about a quarter-mile (400 meters) within 15 minutes, without sitting and without the help of another person or walker. Use of a cane was allowed. The study involved 1,635 men and women, ages 70 to 89, at 8 universities and research centers across the country, including Tufts.

On a practical level, the walking test gauges a person’s general fitness to perform ordinary activities like shopping, household chores and travel. Not being able to pass the test is a harbinger of future immobility.

Participants were relatively sedentary at the start of the study, having reported less than 20 minutes per week of physical activity in the previous month. The volunteers were randomly assigned to either weekly health education classes with 10 minutes of gentle stretching, or to a program consisting of exercises for strength, flexibility and balance, as well as walking. Participants were told to set as their goal 30 minutes a day of walking at moderate intensity.

Over the average 2.6-year study period, participants in the exercise program were 28% less likely to develop major mobility disability, compared with the control group that just received health education. Increased regular exercise was particularly potent in participants who started the study with the lowest level of physical functioning.

“We think that one of the reasons older people lose their independence is because of some problem they have with their muscle function,” Fielding explains. “Therefore, if you can design an intervention that can help slow the rate of muscle loss or restore some of the muscle function, it may help to prevent individuals from ultimately becoming disabled. We’ve shown that pretty well with exercise.”

How Many Steps to Health? More recently, Fielding used the data from the LIFE study to pin down the amount of physical activity it takes to prevent disability in the at-risk individuals who participated in the LIFE trial. Is 30 minutes a day of walking and other exercise the required buy-in to prevent immobility?

Fielding and his colleagues reanalyzed the LIFE data to see what impact incremental “doses” of physical activity over the first two years of the trial had on physical function (based on tests of balance and leg strength) and walking speed. They found that an increase in physical activity of just over 45 minutes per week reduced the chance of mobility disability by about 70%. That’s equivalent to a single session of exercise training used in the LIFE trial.

It all adds up to this: Even people who are relatively sedentary and start late in the game can benefit from increasing physical activity. Walking is a great entry-level physical activity—simple, free and safe unless you have a balance problem or other risk factor for falling. A brisk walk, combined with a light aerobic workout and strength training, can increase the odds of staying active and independent with aging.

“Understanding the minimal dose of physical activity required to improve physical function and reduce the risk of disability may inform future public health recommendations about physical activity for older adults,” Fielding says. “A reduced risk of disability can be seen with substantially less physical activity than is currently recommended for most inactive older adults.”

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Physics explains why time flies as we age

Time flies when you’re having fun. As an old timer, I have responded countless times that “Time flies even when you’re not having fun.” So I was most gratified to find this research on exactly that.

A Duke University researcher has a new explanation for why those endless days of childhood seemed to last so much longer than they do now–physics.

According to Adrian Bejan, the J.A. Jones Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Duke, this apparent temporal discrepancy can be blamed on the ever-slowing speed at which images are obtained and processed by the human brain as the body ages.

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The end result is that, because older people are viewing fewer new images in the same amount of actual time, it seems to them as though time is passing more quickly. 

The theory was published online on March 18 in the journal European Review. Continue reading

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Higher Fitness Level Can Determine Longer Lifespan After Age 70 – Study

I am always happy to pass along another example of how valuable my eat less; move more; live longer mantra is in daily practice.

Researchers have uncovered one more reason to get off the couch and start exercising, especially if you’re approaching your golden years. Among people over age 70, physical fitness was found to be a much better predictor of survival than the number of traditional cardiovascular risk factors in a study being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session.

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While high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and smoking are closely linked with a person’s chance of developing heart disease, these factors are so common in older people that the total number of risk factors becomes almost meaningless for predicting future health, researchers said. The new study suggests doctors can get a better picture of older patients’ health by looking at how fit they are, rather than how many of these cardiovascular risk factors they have. Continue reading

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Consider Tai Chi …

I have had great success with yoga over the years, but tai chi comes heavily recommended by people whose opinions I respect. I took some classes in it and enjoyed them, but never felt as totally exercised as I did with yoga. Herewith a breakdown of this gentle martial art.

Tai chi is a non-competitive martial art known for its self-defense techniques and health benefits. As a form of exercise, it combines gentle physical exercise and stretching with mindfulness.

photo a man and woman doing martial arts

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Research has produced mixed results but appears to show that tai chi can improve balance control, fitness, and flexibility, and might cut the risk of falls in older people.

Tai chi also appears to reduce pain and the symptoms of depression in some cases.

The martial art is an ancient Chinese tradition that has evolved over centuries. To its advocates, it has become a means of alleviating stress and anxiety, a form of “meditation in motion.” Its supporters claim that it promotes serenity and inner peace.

It is safe for people of all ages, as it does not put too much stress on the muscles and joints.

This article explores the documented evidence for the benefits of tai chi.

Benefits

Various research suggests the benefits of tai chi might include improved balance, pain management, and cognitive function in people with and without chronic conditions.

Other possible benefits include improved sleep quality and an enhanced immune system. Continue reading

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Spoiler alert – on being 79 years old

First of all, please read and digest the facts contained in the photo below. I very much believe what it says and live my life accordingly. I think it paints a clear picture about the wonderful organic machines that are our bodies. As such, for the most part, I enjoy robust good health riding my bike nearly every day year ’round here in Chicago.

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Nonetheless, at 79 years old I am not a kid any more. This week I will be going to a physical therapist where I am getting treatments for lower back pains. In between visits to her, every day I do between 20 minutes and a half hour of physical therapy exercises which she has proscribed. I presently am working through some serious lower back pains.

On Friday I meet with a dental specialist who will be consulting on a problem I have under some bridgework on the upper right side of my mouth. That dental structure was put in over 20 years ago and has recently shown signs of age.

While I am not seeing a medical practitioner for the arthritis that afflicts my hands, I rub CBD oil on them regularly and roll Chinese exercise balls around in them to relieve the pain and increase my dexterity. You can read about my experience with CBD oil.

Other than that, President Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

I did not intend this post to be as much of a downer as I fear it may be, but I wanted to put out some of the facts of my life that are indicative of a guy who just turned 79 years old. The good news is that I am retired and need to answer to no one for my time.

I am very happy with my life and once this Midwest weather straightens itself out I look forward to being back riding my bike daily.

But, I also wanted to paint a fair picture of things on this side of the temporal spectrum. 

Tony

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