Tag Archives: Exercise

Sweat – Don’t Forget: Exercise Breaks Improve Learning

It is becoming clearer to me with every day that passes – exercise is the key to a better life. Everyone understands the first level – that our bodies crave movement. But new research continues to unearth fresh benefits for our bodies globally. Every aspect of our life and being tends to benefit from exercise. Just scroll back through this blog at the last 10 posts and you will find one after the other example of this.

New research from a team of scientists at McMaster University suggests that brief exercise breaks during lectures can help university students focus their attention, retain information and improve overall learning.

cycling-bicycle-riding-sport-38296.jpeg

While the benefits of exercise are well-known for school-aged children, this is the first study to examine the benefits for adult students. The findings are published online in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition.

For the study, researchers examined three groups of first-year Introductory Psychology students, who were tasked with watching a 50-minute online lecture. One cohort performed a series of brief, calisthenic exercises at regular breaks during the lecture, another took breaks but played a video game, and a final group did not take any break. Continue reading

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, learning

Sitting is Bad for Your Brain, Not Just Your Heart or Metabolism

It’s been a couple of years now since I first learned the dangers of prolonged sitting. Someone even called ‘sitting the new smoking.‘ I thought that might have been excessive – might have been. However, this new information from UCLA researchers certainly adds resonance to the problem for seniors.

sitting-brain-health-neuroscienccenews-public.jpg

 

Sitting too much is linked to changes in a section of the brain that is critical for memory, according to a preliminary study by UCLA researchers of middle-aged and older adults.

Studies show that too much sitting, like smoking, increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and premature death. Researchers at UCLA wanted to see how sedentary behavior influences brain health, especially regions of the brain that are critical to memory formation.

METHOD

UCLA researchers recruited 35 people ages 45 to 75 and asked about their physical activity levels and the average number of hours per day they spent sitting over the previous week. Each person had a high-resolution MRI scan, which provides a detailed look at the medial temporal lobe, or MTL, a brain region involved in the formation of new memories.

The researchers found that sedentary behavior is a significant predictor of thinning of the MTL and that physical activity, even at high levels, is insufficient to offset the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods.

This study does not prove that too much sitting causes thinner brain structures, but instead that more hours spent sitting are associated with thinner regions, researchers said. In addition, the researchers focused on the hours spent sitting, but did not ask participants if they took breaks during this time.

The researchers next hope to follow a group of people for a longer duration to determine if sitting causes the thinning and what role gender, race, and weight might play in brain health related to sitting.

IMPACT

MTL thinning can be a precursor to cognitive decline and dementia in middle-aged and older adults. Reducing sedentary behavior may be a possible target for interventions designed to improve brain health in people at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, researchers said.

Please check out my Page – Do you know the dangers of too much sitting? for more details on the common practice.

Tony

6 Comments

Filed under aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, Exercise, memory, prolonged sitting, sedentary lifestyle, sitting too long

Diet, exercise and brain training counter cognitive decline

This is wonderful news. I love everything about it. My blog is based on exactly these principles. Eat intelligently and get your exercise and your brain will benefit in your declining years. Well done!

A comprehensive program providing older people at risk of dementia with healthy eating guidance, exercise, brain training, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors appears to slow down cognitive decline, according to the first ever randomized controlled trial of its kind, published in The Lancet.

cycling-bicycle-riding-sport-38296.jpeg

In the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER) study, researchers led by Professor Miia Kivipelto from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Helsinki, and University of Eastern Finland, assessed the effects on brain function of a comprehensive intervention aimed at addressing some of the most important risk factors for age-related dementia, such as high body-mass index and heart health. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under aging, aging brain, cognition, cognitive decline, Exercise, exercise benefits, successful aging

Exercise trumps genetics when it comes to heart disease

This is a case of the more the merrier as far as I am concerned. Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. And here, we have fresh research extolling the virtues of exercise in preventing heart disease.

Exercise, especially cardio fitness, could outweigh genetics when it comes to heart disease, according to new research.

runner-race-competition-female.jpg

The study, published in the journal Circulation, showed strength and cardiorespiratory fitness lowered the risk for heart disease across the board – whether people were categorized with low, intermediate or high genetic risk.

“Genes don’t have to determine destiny,” said Dr. Erik Ingelsson, lead study author and professor of medicine at Stanford University. “You can impact your risk by being more fit.”

I can’t say it enough times – take responsibility for your health. Don’t be blaming problems on your genes.

The study examined 482,702 people in England, Scotland and Wales who participated in the UK Biobank, an international research project that recruited participants between ages 40 and 69 years old from 2006 to 2010. Researchers followed those who didn’t have any signs of heart disease for about a decade. They tracked activity and exercise through questionnaires, grip strength measurements and other tests.

“It’s was a very consistent pattern for all of these different measures,” according to Ingelsson, who said he believes it is the largest such study. “All were associated with lower risk of disease in the future.”

Researchers specifically investigated the genetic profiles for those at highest risk for coronary heart disease and a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, or AFib. Those at the highest risk who also had the highest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness – conducted through oxygen and effort measurements on a stationary bicycle – cut their coronary heart disease risk by 49 percent and their AFib risk by 60 percent.

The research is important – and timely, said Dr. Russell Pate, a professor in the University of South Carolina’s Department of Exercise Science in the Arnold School of Public Health.

“They’ve demonstrated that physical activity and fitness were associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease outcomes across a continuum of persons,” Pate said. “For the public, that’s an important message. You can’t eliminate genetic risk, but you can absolutely attenuate the effects.”

Pate just finished a term on a committee that writes the federal Physical Activity Guidelines. The group’s advisory report was released last month and will be the foundation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ policy recommendations on how physical activity can promote health and reduce the risk of disease. The advisory group’s recommendations have a chapter emphasizing the importance of exercise with people who have chronic conditions.

The latest research is “added ammunition in making the case that promotion of physical activity deserves a prominent place in public health,” Pate said.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, though there are proven ways to lower risk. People often hear about risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and excess weight. Now, the expanding field of genetics can provide more information, Pate said.

“We’re in a new era in terms of people being able to know their risk status,” he said. “We can now provide information at a new and higher level.”

Ingelsson and the study authors suggested it could lead to individualized strength-training and aerobic programs to help people counteract their genetic risk for heart disease.

But one important question to answer, and a potential future area of study, Ingelsson said, is whether that knowledge truly is power. If we know that lifestyle choices like exercise could offset our genetic risk for disease, how likely are we to start that healthier lifestyle?

6 Comments

Filed under cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart, heart disease

April is ‘Move More Month’ – AHA

As much as I work on promoting movement – exercise – here, it seems only fair to point out that April is the American Heart Association’s Move More Month.

According to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2018 Update, only 22 percent of American adults meet the federal physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening activity, and one in three adults report participating in no leisure time activity at all!

bikingpictures08 copy.JPG

This is an ‘oldie but goodie’ shot of my dog and me riding on Northerly Island in Chicago. Exercise is easy when you find something you like doing.

While most people know exercise should be part of their daily routine, many don’t realize just how easy it is to add physical activity to everyday activities. Not everyone has hours to spend in the gym, or even 30 minutes to take a walk every day. It’s time to help people feel good about what they’re already doing, while also providing some new and creative ways to sneak in even more daily movement. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under American Heart Association, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, heart health brain health, how much exercise

6 Steps to sharpen your brain – Harvard

At the risk of repeating myself I have had three cases of dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease in my family. They occurred on both my mother’s and father’s side, so I am totally paying attention to anything that might help to preserve my cognitive powers. I turned 78 in January. Here is Harvard Healthbeat on the subject.

Everyone has the occasional “senior moment.” Maybe you’ve gone into the kitchen and can’t remember why, or can’t recall a familiar name during a conversation. Memory lapses can occur at any age, but aging alone is generally not a cause of cognitive decline. When significant memory loss occurs among older people, it is generally not due to aging but to organic disorders, brain injury, or neurological illness.

14-1-114

Studies have shown that you can help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the risk of dementia with some basic good health habits:

  • staying physically active
  • getting enough sleep
  • not smoking
  • having good social connections
  • limiting alcohol to one drink a day
  • eating a balanced diet low in saturated and trans fats.

Certain health conditions that can impair cognitive skills include diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression, and hypothyroidism. If you have any of these health issues, you can help protect your memory by following your doctor’s advice carefully.

Memory changes can be frustrating, but the good news is that, thanks to decades of research, you can learn how to get your mind active. There are various strategies we can use to protect and improve memory. Here are several you might try.

1. Keep learning

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby, learning a new skill, or volunteering for a project at work that involves a skill you don’t usually use can function the same way and help improve memory. Continue reading

2 Comments

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

Exercise helps overcome negative effects of stress – Study

I have written numerous times about using deep breathing to combat stress. Turns out that a recent study from Brigham Young University says that exercise helps to combat negative effects of stress.

The study, newly published in the journal of Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, finds that running mitigates the negative impacts chronic stress has on the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

 

pexels-photo-386024.jpeg

“Exercise is a simple and cost-effective way to eliminate the negative impacts on memory of chronic stress,” said study senior author Jeff Edwards, associate professor of physiology and developmental biology at BYU.

“The ideal situation for improving learning and memory would be to experience no stress and to exercise,” Edwards said. “Of course, we can’t always control stress in our lives, but we can control how much we exercise. It’s empowering to know that we can combat the negative impacts of stress on our brains just by getting out and running.”

To see the paper online, click here. Ten undergraduate BYU students served as co-authors on the paper, included David Marriott, who began the project for his undergraduate honor’s thesis. First author Roxanne Miller graduated in December with her Ph.D. and the research was part of her dissertation.

“Even though we will never be able to completely remove stress from our lives, it is nice to know that we can go out and do cardiovascular exercise for 20 minutes a day to help keep the stress from overwhelming our brains,” Miller said.

To read further on the benefits of exercise and the brain check out my Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, stress, stress reduction

Happy Easter, Bunnies!

Also, Happy Passover to those of you celebrating that holiday. And last, but not least, happy April Fools day to everyone.

The idea of achieving and maintaining good health in this blog really is just an exercise (intended) in restoring ourselves on a daily basis, isn’t it? We wake up in the morning and our body says to us, metaphorically, what have you done for me lately? It’s nice that you ate well and got some exercise yesterday, but this is a new day. So, get to it.

In the spirit of Easter and rebirth and good health I wanted to share this infographic on the benefits of exercise to our brains. Too often we overlook these benefits which are so important to us today and even more so tomorrow, in our senior years.

2a42a80661d8835d8d5f6c5076aab55a
If you want to read more on this subject, check out my Page – Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits)

Regular readers know that my family history includes both Alzheimer’s and dementia. So, exercise and keeping my brain functioning is most relevant to me. When people ask me why I ride my bike every day, I always tell them that I am paying for my old age one bike ride at a time.

Enjoy the day!

A COUPLE OF APRIL FOOLERS

201601_0317_ghheh_sm.png

chocolatebunnies.jpg

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under Easter, Easter wishes, Passover

Smoking, diet, exercise and cancer – USA Today

Thanks to USA Today for this superb graphic presentation of statistics from the American Cancer Society. On its face, it seems good news that smoking has declined. However, stopping a bad habit isn’t the same as having good healthy ones. It seems that as folks dropped their cigarettes, they picked up their snacking and overeating activities.

5e9c850a-b5ce-4a62-afcf-76dc8ef3ad29.jpeg

Please check out my Page – How many ways does smoking harm you? for more details on this destructive habit.

Also, My Page – Important facts about your brain (and exercise benefits) is  worth looking in to.

I recommend reading the following – Obesity is common, serious and costly – CDC. To read more on obesity, type O B E S I T Y into the SEARCH Box at the right.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, impact of quitting smoking, obesity, smoking, Smoking dangers

Boosting enzyme may help improve blood flow, fitness in elderly

Herewith the latest development in our battle with Father Time. At 78-years-old, this is the kind of information that keeps me on the edge of my seat.

As people age, their blood-vessel density and blood flow decrease, which is why it’s harder to maintain muscle mass after 40 and endurance in the later decades, even with exercise. This vascular decline is also one of the major causes of age-related diseases, such as frailty or hypertension. However, little is known about the underlying cause or how to stop it.

830c88f78a26b084002c883eb628074e

Now, in a new study published this week in Cell, a team of researchers from Penn Medicine and other institutions have shown for the first time how a well-studied enzyme called SIRT1 declines in the blood vessels with age and that restoring it reverses the effects of vascular aging. After receiving a supplement called NAD+ precursor nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), older mice had the number of capillaries and capillary density found in much younger mice, and improved endurance by up to 80 percent. The collaborative study also involves researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“This study tells us that the loss of SIRT1 is a primary reason why our ability to exercise and receive its benefits diminish as we age,” said co-senior author Zoltan Pierre Arany, MD, PhD, an associate professor of Cardiovascular Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “We also show that when we bring the enzyme back into the blood vessels, vascular health improves dramatically: The old blood vessel tree [cluster of capillaries] in the older mice is turned into a young vessel tree, one that looks like it’s been exercising for a while, just by turning on this enzyme. That’s the most powerful aspect of the study.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Blood, blood cells, blood pressure, enzymes, Exercise, exercise benefits

Can Exercise Help Me Learn?

“Exercise helps you to learn on three levels: first, it optimizes your mind-set to improve alertness, attention and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus,” so says Spark, the revolutionary new science of exercise and the brain. Author John J. Ratey, M.D., is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Besides, Spark, he also wrote A User’s Guide to the Brain among other books.

The hippocampus plays a major role in the consolidation of information from long term memory and short term memory. So, clearly, exercise plays an important role for seniors who are concerned about their memory failing in their latter years.

One distinction needs to be made here. You can’t learn difficult material while you are exercising because blood is shunted away from the prefrontal cortex and this hampers your executive function. Dr. Ratey quotes a study of college students who were working out on treadmills and exercise bikes at a high rate. They performed poorly on tests of complex learning. “However blood flow shifts back almost immediately after you finish exercising, and this is the perfect time to focus on a project that demands sharp thinking and complex analysis.”

He enumerates an experiment that was done on 40 adults aged 50 to 64. They were asked to do one 35 minute treadmill session at either 60 percent or 70 percent of maximum heart rate. Afterwards, they were asked to list alternative uses for common objects, like a newspaper. It is used for reading, but can be used to wrap fish, line a bird cage, etc. Half of the group watched a movie and the other half exercised. They were tested three times, before the session, immediately after the session and then 20 minutes later. The results of the movie watchers showed no change, but the runners improved their processing speed and cognitive flexibility after just one session. “Cognitive flexibility is an important executive function that reflects our ability to shift thinking and to produce a steady flow of creative thoughts and answers as opposed to a regurgitation of the usual responses. The trait correlates with high performance levels in intellectually demanding jobs.” The doctor recommends going for a short, intense run at lunchtime ahead of an important brain-storming session at work.

spark-book I have enjoyed Dr. Ratey’s book and recommend it to readers of the blog. You can get a look at the book on the Amazon website and purchase it from there if you like it.

As regular readers know, I lost an aunt to Alzheimer’s and my mother suffered from dementia in her final years. I am a total believer in this exercise-learning hypothesis. If I don’t ride my bike every day, I manage a five mile walk, climb 30 flights of stairs, or take a trip to the health club. I ain’t sittin’ around doin’ nothin’.

I have repeated the phrase, Use it or Lose it time and again in this blog. In this case, using the body promotes healthy mental processes as well as good physical results.

Tony

4 Comments

Filed under aging, aging brain, brain, brain function, brain health, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise benefits, John J Ratey MD, successful aging

A Lifetime of Regular Exercise Slows Down Aging

Regular readers know that I ride my bike pretty much daily here in Chicago and my 78th birthday occurred in January. I wrote about my physical condition then, but I have to tell you that finding this study was like a wonderful belated birthday present.

According to researchers, older adults who exercised for most of their lives showed signs of slowed down aging. The study reports those who actively cycled into older age had lower cholesterol levels and better immune systems than those who did not partake in regular exercise.

Field Museum

Here I am with my trusty riding companion, Gabi, who just turned 12 in December.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham and King’s College London have found that staying active keeps the body young and healthy.

The researchers set out to assess the health of older adults who had exercised most of their adult lives to see if this could slow down aging. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under aging, aging brain, cardio exercise, Exercise, exercise and brain health, exercise benefits, outdoor exercise, regular bike riding

Can coffee improve your workout? The science of caffeine and exercise

I confess I love coffee. I drink it every morning and after meals when I eat out. Mostly I consume decaf as I have read some horrifying studies on caffeine addiction and caffeine headaches. Also, I really don’t like to add chemicals to my system if I can help it. Here is an interesting study of the effect of caffeine and coffee on workouts from Medical Xpress.

Caffeine is one of the most researched substances reported to help athletes perform better and train longer and harder. As a result, professional and amateur sportspeople often take it as a performance-enhancing “ergogenic” aids for a wide range of activities. These include intermittent exercise such as football and racket sports, endurance exercise such as running and cycling, and resistance exercise such as weightlifting.

pexels-photo-622297.jpeg

But while most research looks at the effects of pure caffeine consumed as tablets with water, in the real world most people get their caffeine from coffee, energy drinks or other products like special gels or chewing gum. So will drinking a cup of joe before your workout actually make a difference? The answer could depend as much on your genes as what kind of coffee you’re drinking.

Scientists think caffeine affects the body chemical adenosine, which normally promotes sleep and suppresses arousal. Caffeine ties up the receptors in the brain that detect adenosine and so makes it more alert. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under caffeine, cardio exercise, coffee, Exercise, exercise benefits, exercise duration

6 Habits that Damage the Brain – Infographic

Because both Alzheimer’s and dementia run in my family, I am acutely concerned about keeping my brain healthy as well as anything that might damage it.

On the positive side, check out my Page Important Facts About Your Brain (and Exercise Benefits) as well as Important Facts About Brain Fitness.

2015+-+1-3

The final item names smoking. To learn more about the damage smoking does to your body and your general health, check out my Page How Many Ways Does Smoking Harm You?

Tony

2 Comments

Filed under Alzheimer's disease, brain, brain function, brain health, dementia

Seniors Need to Exercise – NIH

Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog as regular readers know.

No matter your health and physical abilities, you gain a lot by staying active. In fact, in most cases you have more to lose by not being active, according to The National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Seniors-exercising

This is one of those simple, but not easy ideas. The damning statistics of 60 percent overweight of which 30 percent are obese in the general population hold true for seniors aged 65 and over, too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is a fascinating refinement in those numbers. In the years 65 to 74, the percent of obesity jumps to 41.5 for men and 40.3 percent for women. For the next segment, aged 75 years and older, however, it then drops to 26.5 for men and 28.7 for women. So, that 65 to 74 period is a very dangerous one for our senior population.

My only conclusion is that many of the obese 65-74 year old folks simply died off as a result of their weight leaving only the healthier trimmer ones alive after 75 years old.

To combat the ravages of a sedentary life and obesity, the NIH recommends exercise.

“Here are just a few of the benefits.

Exercise and physical activity:
• Can help maintain and improve your physical strength and fitness.
• Can help improve your ability to do the everyday things you want to do.
• Can help improve your balance.
• Can help manage and improve diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
• Can help reduce feelings of depression and may improve mood and overall well-being.
• May improve your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

“The key word in all these benefits is YOU—how fit and active you are now and how much effort you put into being active. To gain the most benefits, enjoy all four types of exercise, stay safe while you exercise, and be sure to eat a healthy diet, too!

“Exercise and physical activity fall into four basic categories—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. Each type is different, though. Doing them all will give you more benefits.”

Obesity is a killer. I have written about it in several posts, check out What are Some Obesity Statistics? How Does Obesity Affect You?” Public Largely Ignorant About Obesity Risks. There are more posts on the danger of obesity, but those will give you a start. If you want to read further, type obesity into the SEARCH box at the right.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Exercise, exercise benefits, obesity, successful aging

The Mayo Clinic tells why you should exercise regularly

Regular readers know that I feel very strongly about exercising regularly. Eat less; move more; live longer is the mantra of this blog. So, I was thrilled to receive a Mayo Clinic Newsletter from Dr. Robert Sheeler, Medical Editor of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. So many people think about exercise as an adjunct to dieting to lose weight. Wrong. You need to exercise to stay generally healthy and also to maintain a healthy body weight. You don’t stop after you reach your goal weight.

Here’s what the good doctor had to say, “If you exercise regularly, you may lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke. If you are middle-aged or older and haven’t been exercising regularly or have a chronic health problem, work with your doctor to develop an exercise program.

Running at the fitness club

“To condition your heart safely:
Start at a comfortable level of exertion — Try walking five to 10 minutes over a short distance indoors. Increase your time by five minutes a session as you’re able.
Schedule regular exercise — Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity.
Include variety — Combine three types of exercise — stretching (flexibility), endurance (aerobic or cardio) and strengthening (weight training). Start each session with a warm-up of lower intensity, and cool down gradually. Mind-body exercises, such as yoga and tai chi, may provide even greater benefits.
Cross-train to reduce your risk of injury — Alternate among exercises that emphasize different parts of the body, such as swimming, bicycling and walking.
Don’t overdue it — Start slowly and build up gradually, allowing time between sessions for your body to rest and recover. And forget the saying “No pain, no gain.” A little muscle soreness when you do something new isn’t unusual, but soreness doesn’t equal pain. If it hurts, stop doing it.
Increase your physical activity — Even routine activities such as gardening, climbing stairs or washing floors can burn calories and help improve your health. You’ll get the most benefit from a structured exercise program, but any physical movement helps. Walk or bike to the store instead of driving, park farther away at the shopping mall or take the stairs instead of taking an elevator.”

Want more great health information? Visit the store now to see the latest products from Mayo Clinic doctors, specialists and editorial staff.

Tony

3 Comments

Filed under Mayo Clinic, Mayo Clinic Health Letter