Exercise is just as good for the brain as it is for the body, a growing body of research is showing. And one kind in particular—aerobic exercise—appears to be king.
“Back in the day, the majority of exercise studies focused on the parts of the body from the neck down, like the heart and lungs,” says Ozioma Okonkwo, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “But now we are finding that we need to go north, to the brain, to show the true benefits of a physically active lifestyle on an individual.”
Exercise might be a simple way for people to cut down their risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, even for those who are genetically at risk for the disease. In a June study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Okonkwo followed 93 adults who had at least one parent with Alzheimer’s disease, at least one gene linked to Alzheimer’s, or both. People in the study who spent at least 68 minutes a day doing moderate physical activity had better glucose metabolism—which signals a healthy brain—compared to people who did less.
Moderate to high intensity exercise does not slow cognitive (mental) impairment in older people with dementia, according to new research.
The research team found that although exercise improved physical fitness, it cannot be recommended as a treatment option for cognitive impairment in dementia.
Nearly 47.5 million people worldwide have dementia and the view that exercise might slow cognitive decline has widespread popularity.
But recent reviews of trials of exercise training in people with dementia show conflicting results. To try and resolve the uncertainty, researchers decided to estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training program on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with dementia.
Incorporating structured exercise into supportive care can help improve the lives of patients with advanced cancer, say researchers in an article e-published ahead of print in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In an analysis of previous studies, authors found that both aerobic exercise and resistance training improved many cancer side effects.
Authors evaluated 25 studies, for a total of 1,188 participants, that measured the efficacy of exercise interventions on physical function, quality of life, fatigue, body composition, psychosocial function, sleep quality, pain, and survival. All studies used more than 1 session of structured exercise as the primary intervention and specified the “frequency, intensity, time, or type” of exercise. More than 80% of participants in each study had been diagnosed with “advanced cancer that is unlikely to be cured.” Some studies used control groups, and some did not.
Canada’s longest-lived seniors tend to have parents who live at least nine years longer than average and that’s a lot, according to Angela Brooks-Wilson, who runs a 16-year healthy aging study at Simon Fraser University.
But lifestyle always plays a bigger role in how long you live, she said.
If you want to live to 85 and longer, it helps to stay busy.
Study participant Ivan Vance — just 90 years old — hits the gym and the courts at the Jericho Tennis Club about four times a week and really pushes himself. After the gym, he hits serves for an hour or more.
I constantly see runners working on their core. They do planks. They do sit ups. They do a terrifying exercise because they saw it on the internet. They all hear that they need a strong core, so they strive to achieve it!
As a clinician, I also see a number of non-runners, many of whom have heard the same thing. Build your core. Sit with better posture. Both groups typically have a misunderstanding of what this means. In fact, I think most of us have struggled through the years at exactly what this means.
Posture is one of those things that gets talked about endlessly, but few truly understand what it means. We constantly hear, sit up straight, stand up tall, but the fact of the matter is, this isn’t what good posture means!
Scientists have more evidence that exercise improves brain health and could be a lifesaving ingredient that prevents Alzheimer’s disease.
In particular, a new study from UT Southwestern’s O’Donnell Brain Institute suggests that the lower the fitness level, the faster the deterioration of vital nerve fibers in the brain. This deterioration results in cognitive decline, including memory issues characteristic of dementia patients.
“This research supports the hypothesis that improving people’s fitness may improve their brain health and slow down the aging process,” said Dr. Kan Ding, a neurologist from the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute who authored the study.
Eccentric exercise is commonly used as a form of loading exercise for individuals with patellar tendinopathy. This study investigated the change of mechanical properties and clinical outcomes and their interrelationships after a 12-week single-legged decline-board exercise with and without extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT).
Thirty-four male in-season athletes with patellar tendinopathy for more than 3 months were randomized into exercise and combined groups. The exercise group received a 12-week single-legged decline-squat exercise, and the combined group performed an identical exercise program in addition to a weekly session of ESWT in the initial 6 weeks.
It has been a long standing myth amongst non-runners that running (specially long distance running e.g. marathons) can cause arthritis and damage the knees. Infact one of my friends who is an ergonomist and occupational therapist also said the same thing to me. She is an ardent cyclist and swears that pounding the knees on the roads is not her idea of exercise as its going to have a significant impact on her knees and leave her with early onset of osteoarthritis in the knee. She has even encouraged me to consider giving up running and take up cycling as an exercise instead as it is potentially less strenuous for the knees.
One can be forgiven for believing these contentions. It is easy to imagine ballistic forces moving through our knees when running and since the knees of long distance runners undergo these mechanical forces repetitively, it can be assumed that it would lead to degeneration and therefore knee osteoarthritis.
Physical therapy is often the first option many people seek when it comes to brutal back pain, but a recent study finds that yoga is an equally effective alternative that might be cheaper and provides additional health benefits, too.
A team of researchers from the Boston Medical Center recruited 320 “predominantly low-income, racially diverse adults with chronic low back pain” for their study. They randomly placed participants in either a 12-week yoga class, a 15-visit physical therapy program, or they simply sent them an educational book and newsletters offering suggestions on how to cope with back pain.
The study is among the first to look at how patients of a lower socioeconomic status would fare from a yoga course specifically catered to treat chronic back pain.