Thursday, January 23, 2014

Brain Fitness

Your brain is constantly changing--creating new neurons and increasing the functional connections among them, known as synapses and dendrites. The level at which it performs these functions determines your brain's fitness, which is dependent on the inflow of nutrients and blood.

Physical exercise promotes brain blood flow and the beneficial brain proteins called neurotrophins. In these ways, exercise protects brain fitness and the capacity of a person to meet the various cognitive demands of life.

As a result, studies have repeatedly shown that older individuals who regularly participate in physical exercise are less likely to succumb to cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease.

In a study of older adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, scientists found that 40 to 60 minutes of intensive aerobic exercise 4 days a week acted as a "potential (non drug induced) intervention that improves executive control processes for older women at high risk of cognitive decline" Another study of 1300 people by the Mayo Clinic concluded :ANY frequency of moderate exercise performed in midlife or late life was associated with reduced odds of MCI)

Like physical exercise, mental exercise formal education, continuing to learn, mentally engaged in life, and practicing cognitive skills can help prevent cognitive decline, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Mental exercise can also improve normally functioning minds.

Studies show that brain fitness can be improved by various cognitive activities, such as chess, bridge, or more structured computer-based workouts. Scientists found that, compared to other computer-based activities, computer brain-boosting exercises improved attention and memory in people over age 60. Other research showed that participants aged 65 and older who performed mental training for two and a half hours weekly improved their memory, reasoning, and information-processing speed-within five weeks.And individuals who did crossword puzzles puzzles four days a week were found to have 47% lower risk of dementia than those who did a crossword puzzle just once a week.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Walking is good exercise

We all can benefit by walking for exercise. It is recommended that one should walk at least 5 times each week. Try to find a partner or group to walk with for motivation and safety. It is advisable to wear reflective clothing, even during daylight hours. It is also a good idea to bring a cell phone  with you and let someone know where you will be walking. Walk standing up straight, tall and relaxed with your head up--do not look down. Hold your arms at  a 90 degree angle and swing them normally. It is a good idea  to stretch before you start. After stretching, start with an easy five minute warm up walk. If walking along the road, always walk on the left side facing traffic. Drink plenty of water or a sports drink while walking. Bring along energy bars, trail mix, or raisins in case you need a snack while walking. If you are wearing headphones, make sure you watch out for cars, bikes, and other pedestrians. If you feel tightness or pain at all while walking, stop and stretch some more. Finally take an easy five to ten minute walk afterward to help cool own. Walking is a good form of exercise no matter what your age!!