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.
A study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers that tracked activity levels of 646 adults over 30 years found that, contrary to previous research, exercise in mid-life was not linked to cognitive fitness in later years.
The finding suggests that physical activity may not help maintain cognitive function, or help avoid or delay the onset of the debilitating conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s affects as many as 30 million, mostly older people throughout the world. With no known treatment or cure, researchers are trying to identify measures that might help delay Alzheimer’s onset or limit its reach.
The study, which appears online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, did find that activity levels among study participants in the later years were associated with high cognitive function two years later. This supports earlier research findings that exercise may help to maintain cognitive fitness in the short term.
Danny achieved business success as the new V.P. of sales for a local marketing firm. Even as his career began to soar, his physical fitness diminished. He had been in really good physical shape when he was in college and he exercised regularly, but after he graduated and pursued a career he had could not find the time to exercise on a regular basis. As V.P., he often worked nights and weekends but quit working out.
He gained weight and had a difficult time walking up a flight of stairs without experiencing shortness-of-breath. The final straw that led to a change in his lifestyle occurred when he was on vacation in Europe and had significant difficulty walking around to see the different sights. He was embarrassed that he had to rely on various modes of transportation and was unable to walk around to “sight-see”. He could not walk further than a couple of blocks without experiencing fatigue and leg pain. If you have ever been to a European city, you know that walking is the primary mode of transportation for most residents and many tourists. Many of the sights require extensive walking on stairs and being in poor physical condition can ruin your trip.
Physical fitness involves both physical and mental health. When someone is physically fit they are able to perform daily activities without experiencing pain and fatigue, plus they feel good mentally. Their energy level is higher and their outlook on life and the task at hand is more positive. The primary components of a physical fitness program are strength, endurance, cardiovascular health, and flexibility.
For families looking for ways to stay active together, summer just got more challenging—in a fun way, that is. With prizes.
APTA and its Section on Pediatrics are encouraging the whole family to get involved in physical activity with its “Summer Fit Family Challenge,” a program that promotes shared physical activities that make the most of summer. Members are encouraged to share information on the program with patients, clients, and members of the community—as well as with their own families.
The challenge? Families download a list of 15 fun physical activities, then try to do as many as possible over the summer. Activities range from fruit-picking at a local orchard, to finding a new lake or beach and taking a dip, to simply taking the time to explore a city on foot or bike. Families who take photos of themselves participating in the challenge can share their photos on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #FitFam14, and will be entered to win prizes.
Long working hours need no longer be an excuse for not exercising. On the contrary, experts at a Dubai-based rehabilitation center say they are precisely why you should work out. And no, you don’t have to leave the office to loosen those muscles.
The Kuur Physiotherapy Center in Bur Dubai, which specializes in physical rehabilitation for a host of conditions, has rolled out Workout@work, a fitness program aimed at promoting physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace.
Marilyne Lopez, chartered physiotherapist, said: “The UAE has a large working population that spends considerable time at the office. But few realize that overworking and poor posture can lead to several health problems. They are a major cause of musculoskeletal disorders and stress.”
In addition, the sedentary lifestyle that a desk job brings with it leads to several lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart problems, she added.
Dr Dejan Jovanovic, sports medicine specialist, said: “Short walks and some basic stretches go a long way to ensuring good health. Presuming most offices have a corridor or a flight of stairs, short walks can easily be undertaken. They can engage 80 per cent of the muscles in your body.”
Being physically fit in midlife is associated with a lower risk of dementia in old age, a new study reports.
Between 1971 and 2009, 19,458 healthy adults younger than age 65 took a treadmill fitness test as part of a broader health examination. Researchers followed the subjects through their Medicare records for an average of 24 years.
After adjusting for age, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol and other health factors, the researchers found that compared with those in the lowest 20 percent for fitness in midlife, those in the highest 20 percent had a 36 percent reduced risk of dementia.
The reason for the association is unclear.
“Dementia is a disease with no cure and no good therapies,” said the lead author, Dr. Laura F. DeFina, the interim chief scientific officer at the Cooper Institute in Dallas. Physical activity may be “a preventive way to address dementia instead of addressing the costs of a disabled elder.”
In a year when statewide school fitness results were a disappointment, some local educators and administrators are pointing at a common cause to take the blame: video games.
Trish Lucich, who oversees physical education at Yuba City High School, said she sees the toll video games take on less active kids. She thinks its great that some consoles promote physical activity — such as the Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect.
However, most kids don’t play those types of games, she said, and they still aren’t getting out of the house.
"They fire it up at home and stay there," Lucich said.
Even the most interactive games haven’t come as far as they need to in order to have a positive effect on health and fitness, she said, and they certainly don’t help Yuba City High’s rising obesity problem.
The school follows the physical education requirements mandated by the state, which says ninth- and 10th-graders must complete 20 units of PE, and juniors and seniors aren’t required to take PE at all.