Tag Archives: Exercise Benefits

Blink! The Link between Aerobic Fitness and Cognition

Although exercise is known to enhance cognitive function and improve mental health, the neurological mechanisms of this link are unknown. Now, researchers from Japan have found evidence of the missing link between aerobic fitness and cognitive function.


In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers from the University of Tsukuba revealed that spontaneous eye blink rate (sEBR), which reflects activity of the dopamine system, could be used to understand the connection between cognitive function and aerobic fitness.

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The dopaminergic system is known to be involved in physical activity and exercise, and previous researchers have proposed that exercise-induced changes in cognitive function might be mediated by activity in the dopaminergic system. However, a marker of activity in this system was needed to test this hypothesis, something the researchers at the University of Tsukuba aimed to address.

“The dopaminergic system is associated with both executive function and motivated behavior, including physical activity,” says first author of the study Ryuta Kuwamizu. “We used sEBR as a non-invasive measure of dopaminergic system function to test whether it could be the missing link between aerobic fitness and cognitive function.”

To do this, the researchers asked healthy participants to undergo a measure of sEBR, a test of cognitive function, and an aerobic fitness test. They also measured brain activity during the cognitive task using functional near-infrared spectroscopy.

“As expected, we found significant correlations between aerobic fitness, cognitive function, and sEBR,” explains Professor Hideaki Soya, senior author. “When we examined these relationships further, we found that the connection between higher aerobic fitness and enhanced cognitive function was mediated in part by dopaminergic regulation.”

Furthermore, activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (l-DLPFC) during the cognitive task was the same or lower in participants with higher sEBR compared with lower sEBR, even though those with higher sEBR appeared to have greater executive function, and thus higher neural efficiency.

“Although previous studies have indicated that aerobic fitness and cognitive function are correlated, this is the first to provide a neuromodulatory basis for this connection in humans. Our data indicate that dopamine has an essential role in linking aerobic fitness and cognition,” says first author Kuwamizu.

Given that neural efficiency in the l-DLPFC is a known characteristic of the dopaminergic system that has been observed in individuals with higher fitness and executive function, it is possible that neural efficiency in this region partially mediates the association between aerobic fitness and executive function. Furthermore, physical inactivity may be related to dopaminergic dysfunction. This information provides new directions for research regarding how fitness affects the brain, which may lead to improved exercise regimens. For instance, exercise that specifically focuses on improving dopaminergic function may particularly boost motivation, mood, and mental function.

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COVID-19 Activity Chart

I know I don’t have to repeat myself about the value of exercise (movement), especially during this isolating pandemic we are experiencing. But, I found this infographic and I thought it might be useful to you.

Tony

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More reasons to walk there …

I have written time and again about the benefits of walking. Here is a lovely little graphic that shows you some of the wonderful things that happen when you … walk. To learn more about this simple, but beautiful exercise, check out my PageWhy you should walk more.

Tony

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Physical Frailty Syndrome – Aging –

“There is strong evidence that frailty is both prevented and ameliorated by physical activity, with or without a Mediterranean diet or increased protein intake,” noted Fried. “These model interventions to date are nonpharmacologic, behavioral ones, emphasizing the potential for prevention through a complex systems approach.” 

In the inaugural issue of the journal Nature Aging a research team led by aging expert Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, dean of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, synthesizes converging evidence that the aging-related pathophysiology underpinning the clinical presentation of phenotypic frailty (termed as “physical frailty” here) is a state of lower functioning due to severe dysregulation of the complex dynamics in our bodies that maintains health and resilience. When severity passes a threshold, the clinical syndrome and its phenotype are diagnosable. This paper summarizes the evidence meeting criteria for physical frailty as a product of complex system dysregulation. This clinical syndrome is distinct from the cumulative-deficit-based frailty index of multimorbiditys. The paper is published online here.

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Physical frailty is defined as a state of depleted reserves resulting in increased vulnerability to stressors that emerges during aging independently of any specific disease. It is clinically recognizable through the presence of three or more of five key clinical signs and symptoms: weakness, slow walking speed, low physical activity, exhaustion and unintentional weight loss.

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Exercise guidelines for you – AHA

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January 12, 2021 · 12:02 am

Walking: Key To Staying Active and Independent – Tufts

Some years ago, I described walking as the Cinderella of the exercise world – totally unappreciated. Thankfully, more and more people are stepping up and stepping out. Here is what the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter has to say about walking.

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.

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In the US, 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.

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Study identifies ‘three pillars’ of good mental health for young adults

Although most of my readers are over 21, it is worth remembering that good habits pay big dividends later in life. I hope you will pass along this info to any young adults in your social circle. Like a good investment, it can pay big dividends in later life.

Getting good quality sleep, exercising, and eating more raw fruits and vegetables predicts better mental health and well-being in young adults, a University of Otago study has found.

The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, surveyed more than 1100 young adults from New Zealand and the United States about their sleep, physical activity, diet, and mental health.

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Lead author Shay-Ruby Wickham, who completed the study as part of her Master of Science, says the research team found sleep quality, rather than sleep quantity, was the strongest predictor of mental health and well-being.

“This is surprising because sleep recommendations predominantly focus on quantity rather than quality. While we did see that both too little sleep – less than eight hours – and too much sleep – more than 12 hours – were associated with higher depressive symptoms and lower well-being, sleep quality significantly outranked sleep quantity in predicting mental health and well-being.

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Physical exercise and dementia

Of all the lifestyle changes that have been studied, taking regular physical exercise appears to be one of the best things that you can do to reduce your risk of getting dementia according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Several studies looking at the effect of aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate) in middle-aged or older adults have reported improvements in thinking and memory, and reduced rates of dementia.

Exercising in mid-life

Prospective studies follow the health and behavior of a group of people over time. Several prospective studies have looked at middle-aged people and the effects of physical exercise on their thinking and memory in later life. Combining the results of 11 studies shows that regular exercise can significantly reduce the risk of developing dementia by about 30 per cent. For Alzheimer’s disease specifically, the risk was reduced by 45 per cent.

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Oldie, but goodie …

Faithful readers know that growing up in the 1940’s, I became a Wonder Woman fan as a kid. And now, you unfaithful readers know it, too. I wanted to share this piece of early comic art with you because, although it is over 70 years old and meant for children, the information, simple as it is, stands up today.

Brush your teeth, get plenty of sleep, exercise, fresh air and eat healthful foods. With the exception of the teeth, I have posted numerous times on each of Wondy’s remaining chart items. The more things change …

As an 80-year-old who follows these rules, I would like to echo Wonder Woman’s words, “It’s fun to be healthy!”

Tony

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Exercising with Arthritis – NIA

I suffer from severe osteoarthritis in my hands, specifically, my thumb joints. For people with arthritis, exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness. It can also help with losing weight, which reduces stress on the joints.

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Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among older people. It occurs when cartilage, the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones within the joints, breaks down and wears away, according to the National Institute on Aging. For people with arthritis, exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness. It can also help with losing weight, which reduces stress on the joints.

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Strength – NIA

Your muscular strength can make a big difference. Strong muscles help you stay independent and make everyday activities feel easier, like getting up from a chair, climbing stairs, and carrying groceries, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

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Keeping your muscles strong can help with your balance and prevent falls and fall-related injuries. You are less likely to fall when your leg and hip muscles are strong. Some people call using weight to improve your muscle strength “strength training” or “resistance training.”

Strength exercises include lifting weights, even your own body weight, and using a resistance band.

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Sport and memory go hand in hand – Study

Eat less; move more; live longer has been the mantra of this blog for years. It may be that think better can be added to it.

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If sport is good for the body, it also seems to be good for the brain. By evaluating memory performance following a sport session, neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) demonstrate that an intensive physical exercise session as short as 15 minutes on a bicycle improves memory, including the acquisition of new motor skills. How? Through the action of endocanabinoids, molecules known to increase synaptic plasticity. This study, to be read in the journal Scientific Reports, highlights the virtues of sport for both health and education. School programmes and strategies aimed at reducing the effects of neurodegeneration on memory could indeed benefit from it.

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Middle-aged adults with healthy heart habits may lower high blood pressure risk years later

Better heart health, as measured by the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) scale, was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) in middle-aged, Black and white adults, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“High blood pressure is among the most common conditions in the U.S., and it contributes to the greatest burden of disability and largest reduction in healthy life expectancy among any disease,” said Timothy B. Plante, M.D., M.H.S., lead study author and assistant professor in the department of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. “Even though high blood pressure causes so much death and disability, we don’t know the root cause of it.”

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Could Healthy Gut Microbes Help Preserve Muscle as We Age? – Tufts

As we age, the strength and size of our muscles tend to decrease. This loss of muscle mass and function, called sarcopenia, is associated with decreased independence and reduced quality of life. Staying active (and purposefully incorporating muscle-strengthening exercises) is essential, but emerging data suggest that nourishing our gut microbes could be important as well.

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The Gut-Muscle Connection: The trillions of bacteria and other microbes that live in our guts are intimately intertwined with our metabolism. These microscopic inhabitants play roles in digestion, nutrient absorption, and amino acid synthesis, and are also involved in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining so invading organisms, unwanted food components, and the wrong microbial products cannot slip through. Studying the role of the gut microbiome in health is challenging, but research suggests that the make-up of our personal inner world of tiny organisms could play a role in our risk for a number of common diseases and conditions, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. “Emerging research in mice and preliminary human studies suggest there may also be a connection between our gut microbiome and our muscles,” says Michael Lustgarten, PhD, a scientist in the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging.

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Women with higher neuroticism less physically active

Eat less; move more; live longer is still the mantra of this blog. It appears that the first two steps also figure into one’s mental health.

Personality traits help to understand why some people are physically active and others are not. A new study from the Gerontology Research Center and the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, shows that the role of personality may vary depending on how physical activity is measured.

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Personality traits reflect people’s characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. A study at the University of Jyväskylä focused on two traits: extraversion and neuroticism. Individuals who score high in extraversion are typically social, active and talkative. High scores in neuroticism indicate a tendency to have negative feelings, such as anxiety and self-pity.

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Increased blood sugar levels may decrease benefits of aerobic exercise

Every doctor recommends regular aerobic exercise, since greater aerobic fitness is important for achieving better overall health. But Joslin Diabetes Center scientists have discovered that some benefits of aerobic exercise may be dampened by higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, a condition known as hyperglycemia.

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These diminished gains are seen in mouse models and humans with chronic hyperglycemia that is in the “prediabetes” range, says Sarah Lessard, PhD, a Joslin assistant investigator in the section of Clinical, Behavioral and Outcomes Research and senior author on a paper in Nature Metabolism that presents the work. The study also showed that this maladaptive trait is independent of obesity and insulin levels in the blood.

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