Category Archives: exercise and brain health

Tips on healthy aging – Infographic

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If you would like more detail on items above, please check out the following posts:

Certainly one of the best concepts I have learned in producing this blog is that the brain benefits from exercise. It is the first item on the infographic above – Stay Active. I have written a Page on it – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits.)

Regarding the “Don’t be Salty” entry, it is important to keep in mind that most of the damaging salt we consume comes in the form of processed foods. Pay attention to the salt/sodium content in the foods you consume.

Stress damages us in many ways. I have written about it numerous times. You can search S T R E S S in the tags for more. One of the best posts on it is: Super tools for handling stress that I wrote in 2011. Check it out.

Last, but not least, ‘Be happy.’ I have covered the benefits of happiness in lots of posts. I think my Page – Positive psychology – What’s it all about? will also prove valuable information.

Tony

 

 

 

 

 

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Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills – Harvard

Moderate-intensity exercise can help improve your thinking and memory in just six months.

Happy days! More positive information on the benefits to the brain garnered from physical exercise! This time from Harvard Medical School.

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You probably already know that exercising is necessary to preserve muscle strength, keep your heart strong, maintain a healthy body weight, and stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes. But exercise can also help boost your thinking skills. “There’s a lot of science behind this,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School. Continue reading

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Good every day habits to keep your memory in good shape – Harvard

As a senior citizen, I am aware of the aging process going on in both my body and my brain. I exercise to help preserve both. Here are some super suggestions from Harvard HEALTHbeat on bolstering the memory aspect of your brain.

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Your daily habits and lifestyle — what you eat and drink, whether you exercise, how stressed you are, and more — affect your mental health every bit as much as your physical health. A growing body of research indicates that regular exercise and a healthful diet can help protect your memory from aging-related decline. Continue reading

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DARPA Funds Brain-Stimulation Research to Speed Learning

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency  (DARPA) is working with seven U.S. universities and elements of the Air Force and Army on research that seeks to stimulate the brain in a non-invasive way to speed up learning.

DARPA announced the Targeted Neuroplasticity Training, or TNT, program last March, and work now has begun on the effort to discover the safest and most effective ways to activate a natural process called “synaptic plasticity.”

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Plasticity is the brain’s ability to strengthen or weaken its neural connections to adapt to changes in the environment. For TNT Program Manager Dr. Doug Weber, such plasticity is about learning.

“We’re talking about neural plasticity, or how the neurons, which are the working units in the brain, how their function changes over time as we train on new skills,” he said during a recent interview with Department of Defense News.

Targeted Neuroplasticity Training

TNT research focuses on a specific kind of learning called cognitive skills training. People use cognitive skills to do things like pay attention, process information, do several things at once, detect and understand patterns, remember instructions, organize information and much more. Continue reading

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Exercise sharpens the mind in over-50s – Study

Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. Of course the most important element in living longer is having  a fully functioning brain. The BBC just filed a wonderful story supporting that outcome.

Doing moderate exercise several times a week is the best way to keep the mind sharp if you’re over 50, research suggests.

Thinking and memory skills were most improved when people exercised the heart and muscles on a regular basis, a review of 39 studies found.

This remained true in those who already showed signs of cognitive decline.

Taking up exercise at any age was worthwhile for the mind and body, the Australian researchers said.

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Exercises such as T’ai Chi were recommended for people over the age of 50 who couldn’t manage other more challenging forms of exercise, the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine said.

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Healthy living = a healthy brain as you age – Mayo Clinic

Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. Seems that a healthy lifestyle increases the chances of a healthy brain as we age, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle can protect the brain against several risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, Mayo Clinic research shows. Controlling blood pressure and cholesterol and avoiding obesity, smoking and diabetes are among the steps that can help preserve brain health, according to the study, published in JAMA Neurology.

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Neurologists believe two aspects make up Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Amyloid deposits: Toxic proteins that build up plaques on the brain.
  • Neurodegeneration: Loss of structure and function of neurons in the brain.

The Mayo research examined whether the risk factors and protective steps against each differ. Continue reading

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No foolin’ – Exercise Infographic

Thought you would appreciate this April first infographic from the National Institutes of Health. So, here is something good from the government that doesn’t cost us anything. Enjoy!

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Tony

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Is Physical Exercise Better Than Brain Exercise for Seniors?

The split between mind and body seems clearest in the realm of exercise. Each is good for us, but is one better?

Professor Sam Wang, Ph.D. Molecular Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Princeton University covers the subject extensively in Lecture 23 of his course The Neuroscience of Everyday Life which I took from The Great Courses.

Opinion has been split on the subject.

“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigor.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero – 65 BC.

“Exercise invigorates and enlivens all the faculties of body and mind…. It spreads a gladness and a satisfaction over our minds and qualifies us for every sort of business, and every sort of pleasure.” – John Adams, Second President of the U.S.

On the other hand, that curmudgeon, Mark Twain said, “I take my only exercise acting as pallbearer at the funeral of my friends who exercise regularly.”

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The business of brain-training is a multi-million dollar operation. It includes software and games we can play on our computers, Nintendo, smart phones as well as specialized machines. Also, there are the puzzles, like Sudoku, crosswords and other pattern recognition games.

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Filed under aging brain, brain, brain exercise, brain function, brain health, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health

10 Hidden Anxiety Triggers You Need to Avoid

There is a ton of good information in this. Read it and reap!

I have posted previously on:

How important is a good night’s sleep?

Super tools for handling stress

Tony

Our Better Health

Anxiety seems to be a near-universal condition. In the United States alone, approximately 40 million adults – or 18 percent of the population – suffer from an anxiety disorder.

And these numbers represent only the diagnosed (i.e. reported). The actual number is likely to be significantly higher.

The truth is that society is somewhat to blame (not to negate our own sense of responsibility.) We’ve managed to build a 24/7 “constantly connected” infrastructure that has permeated into schools, businesses and elsewhere. Many people are under constant pressure to succeed; most ironically by leveraging this very infrastructure. This only exacerbates the problem.

“Prevention is the best cure” is a universal axiom within the medical community, including within the mental health sphere. Understanding what “triggers” certain symptoms or condition can – in some instances – drastically reduce the likelihood of a symptom or episode.

Here, we focus on ten established “triggers” that…

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Can exercise and nutritional intervention improve muscle mass and function?

Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. I am always thrilled to run across studies that underscore those concepts. This one adds nutritional supplementation for additional benefits.
A study of the combined effect of exercise and nutrition intervention on muscle mass and function in seniors finds that exercise has a positive impact, with some possible additive effect of dietary supplementation.

Although sarcopenia, progressive muscle loss, is a natural part of aging, it is generally identified when muscle mass and muscle function falls below defined thresholds. Sarcopenia’s impact can be enormous as it affects mobility, balance, risk of falls and fractures, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. Given the aging of populations worldwide, public health and clinical recommendations to prevent and manage sarcopenia are urgently needed.

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The new systematic review ‘Nutrition and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Sarcopenia’ [1] summarizes the results of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing the effect of interventions combining physical activity and dietary supplements on muscle mass and muscle function in subjects aged 60 years and older. Continue reading

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Researchers Uncover New Agents That Eliminate Cells Tied to Age-Related Diseases – Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered three new agents to add to the emerging repertoire of drugs that aim to delay the onset of aging by targeting senescent cells – cells that contribute to frailty and other age-related conditions. A recent study of human cell cultures shows that the drugs, fisetin and two BCL-XL inhibitors – A1331852 and A1155463 – cleared senescent cells in vitro. Findings appear online in Aging.

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“Senescent cells accumulate with age and at sites of multiple chronic conditions, such as in fat tissue in diabetes, the lungs in chronic pulmonary diseases, the aorta in vascular disease, or the joints in osteoarthritis,” says James Kirkland, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. “At Mayo Clinic, we discovered the first senolytic drugs – agents that selectively eliminate senescent cells while leaving normal cells unaffected. These senolytic agents alleviated a range of age- and disease-related problems in mice. We used the hypothesis-driven approach that we used to discover the first senolytic drugs, two published in early 2015 and another later in 2015, to discover these three new senolytic drugs.” Continue reading

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Tricking Your Brain Into Helping You Lose Weight

If, like many folks, you overindulged during the recent holidays, perhaps this item I wrote back when the blog was still in diapers might be of help.

Besides, I think the brain is amazing and we can’t know too much about it.

Tony

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

Regular readers know that I am retired and have been taking courses from The Great Courses for some time. Lately, I have become fascinated with the brain and how it functions.

The latest class I am studying is “The Neuroscience of Everyday Life” taught by Sam Wang, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Neuroscience at Princeton University. Additionally, Professor Wang is the co-author of the best-selling book Welcome to Your Brain which has been translated into 20 languages.

Here is the best-selling book Professor Wang co-wrote

I have only just begun reading the book, but I ran across a passage on page 36 that I thought would interest and benefit readers of the blog. The following is from a two-page write-up titled Tricking Your Brain Into Helping You Lose Weight.

This is the conclusion of those two pages:
“Early food exposure influences dietary preferences in adulthood, and eating habits…

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Seniors need to get out of that comfort zone – NYT

I have written several posts on why people are discounting in the mainstream media regarding their second rate and slanted coverage of Donald Trump and the recent election. However, I want to point out that this piece from the New York Times is superb reporting. So, the grey lady lives on.

The article was How to become a Superager by Lisa Feldman Barrett. She is the author of the forthcoming “How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain.”

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She asks, “Why do some older people remain mentally nimble while others decline? “Superagers” (a term coined by the neurologist Marsel Mesulam) are those whose memory and attention isn’t merely above average for their age, but is actually on par with healthy, active 25-year-olds. ”

In providing the answer, she gets into some labyrinthine details on how the brain functions. If you want to go there just click on the link to the article and enjoy. Continue reading

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Get the jump on Alzheimer’s and dementia – Rush

Regular readers know that because I have lost three family members to Alzheimer’s and dementia I have a serious interest in keeping myself safe. And, by extension, you. This isn’t just for seniors.

Rush Medical Center has some very  useful suggestions on the subject.

Do you have the power to prevent Alzheimer’s disease? Although some risk factors — age and family history — are beyond your control, increasing evidence from research indicates that you aren’t helpless.

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Researchers from the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center and around the world have found that certain lifestyle choices can protect your brain against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Incorporate the following activities into your life, and your brain could reap the benefits Continue reading

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What is My Ideal Weight?

As we are in the throes of the holiday season, you may have been asking yourself that question lately. If so, you have come to the right place.

When starting writing this blog nearly seven years ago, I weighed 165 pounds. At 5’9″ tall, I was happy at that weight. It was the lowest I had been in the previous 20 years. At my worst, I weighed around 225 lbs. You can read about that in – How I Lost 50 Pounds in 52 Weeks.

Since starting the blog, I have become very aware of my consumption of food each day as well as my actions to burn off excess calories and to provide necessary exercise for my body. It is a fact that I have focused on my own health more since starting the blog than at any time in my life. As a soon to be 77-year old who has buried both parents as well as several other aged loved ones, I am very much aware of my own mortality and would like to forestall it as long as possible. I also have a 22-year old daughter whom I would like to see grow up.

Getting back to my ideal weight, because of my focus on good health, I have adopted healthy habits on the positive side and avoid negative ones. So, today, nearly seven years after starting this blog, I find myself weighing 150 pounds. Because I weigh myself every day, I am not surprised at that, but, considering that I thought I was at my ideal weight at 165 , I am a bit surprised. So, what should I weigh? One of the factors contributing to the complexity of this question is the testimony of the senses. What we see looking out at our fellow humans is a skewed population which has 60 percent overweight and 30 percent obese. You need to keep that in mind when thinking about your own weight.

Although I stand 5’9″ tall, I have a small frame. My wrist measures less than 7 inches around.

I found what I consider to be a really helpful web page on the subject and will share it with you here. It was created by Dr. Steven B. Halls in 2008.

According to this page, the average weight that other people of my age, height, weight and gender would describe as their ideal weight is 152 pounds.

The medical recommendation is a range of 129 to 169 pounds. This recommendation is based on a Body Mass Index (BMI) range of 19-25. My current BMI is 21.9. Just for the record, I don’t like BMI as a weight metric. You can check out my post Don’t Get Hung up on Your BMI if you want more info on it.

Other results, based on possibly out of date criteria, the weight look up tables of the Metropolitan Life Insurance company in 1979, offer 144 to 154 pounds. The Met Life tables show values that are too large for short people and wrong for tall folks and have no age modifiers.

So, even though I find myself nearly 20 pounds below what I thought was my idea weight back when we started writing the blog, I am actually right in the correct range.

If you are looking at this because it is near year end and you are thinking about ‘getting healthy’ in the coming year, this is a good starting point. Best of luck.

You can read some very useful guidelines on my Page How to Lose Weight (and Keep it Off) Page.

Tony

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Filed under aging, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, ideal weight, Weight

Aerobic Exercise Preserves Brain Volume / Improves Cognition – RSNA

I seem to remember a line from a Clint Eastwood movie – Go ahead, make my day.  That’s how I feel every time I read something in the press about how exercise helps the brain the function better. It absolutely makes my day.

This is from the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA):

•    Aerobic exercise may increase brain volume and cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.
•    MRI results showed increased local gray matter volume in patients who engaged in either aerobic or stretching exercises for six months, but some white matter atrophy in the stretching group.
•    Cognitive testing revealed the aerobic exercise group also showed improvement in executive function after six months.

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Using a new MRI technique, researchers found that adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who exercised four times a week over a six-month period experienced an increase in brain volume in specific, or local, areas of the brain, but adults who participated in aerobic exercise experienced greater gains than those who just stretched. The study was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Continue reading

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