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Exercise and Cognition in Seniors

A lifetime of physical activity is what really counts.

A group of 1635 seniors were randomly assigned to receive either a structured, moderate-intensity program of physical activity (walking, flexibility, resistance training) or health education workshops and upper-body stretching for two years. Researchers did not find any significant difference between the groups in either cognitive improvement or less mild cognitive impairment. This two-year study should not be understood to suggest a life-long program of good physical activity is without considerable value.

PositiveTip: Regular physical activity throughout life is important for maintaining mental and physical health.


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Run So You Won’t Stand Still

Seniors that jog regularly can also walk as efficiently as young adults.

Researchers studied adults over 65 who either jogged or walked a minimum of 30 minutes, 3 times a week. The joggers could walk up to 10% more efficiently than those who only walked. In fact, when walking, those who usually jogged burned energy like young adults in their 20’s. The energy required to walk increases with age, leading to decreased mobility and function.

PositiveTip: Boost your exercise output now to maintain your energy and mobility longer down the road of life.

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Depression Predictor of Alzheimers?

Brain tissue buildup associated with depression may predict Alzheimer's diagnosis later.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. There is little to be done for treatment so prevention is key. Researchers know that a buildup of the brain protein beta-amyloid is predictive of Alzheimer's. When comparing depressed and non-depressed patients amongst 371 people, researchers found that patients classified with severe depression had a 15% increase in beta-amyloid buildup.

PositiveTip: Invest in mental health for yourself and your loved ones. Social support, counseling and learning coping skills will improve your quality of life.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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Health Risks of Home Care

Unsanitary conditions and poorly trained staff pose hazards for home-based health care.

Home-based health care is often a preferable alternative to costly, uncomfortable long-term hospital care. However, a recent analysis raises concerns to watch for if you or a loved one use home care. Researchers found the infection rates ranged from 5% to 80% in different home settings. Untrained workers and unsterile catheters were common causes, particularly among patients using them for nutrient delivery or urination.

PositiveTip: Make sure you or your home-care aide are well trained to avoid infections.

Press Release. Journal Article.

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BP Meds Up Hip Fractures in Elderly

First month and a half of BP medication increases the risk of hip fracture by 43%.

The risk of fracturing a hip is significantly higher during the first 45 days of antihypertensive treatment than before or after. A large Canadian study of older adults found that this risk was consistent for all classes of anti-hypertensives, and is thought to be caused by dizziness, fainting, or syncope.

PositiveTip: While blood pressure medications may be necessary in some older adults, careful monitoring for falls would be prudent.

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At-home and Group Exercise Cuts Falls in Seniors

Exercise helps reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.

Group and home-based exercise programs decrease the risk of falling among the elderly living in the community according to a large review and meta-analysis. Group exercise decreased the risk of falling by 15% compared to no exercise, and at-home activities reduced the risk by 22%. Targeting at least two of the following factors was effective in reducing risks: strength, flexibility, or endurance. Taking supplements of vitamin D probably did not reduce falls, unless a person had a low blood level.

PositiveTip: Physical activity at all ages promotes health and reduces the risk of accidents.

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Keeping the Mind Spry

Physical exercise and computer use both associated with less cognitive impairment.

Senior residents of Olmstead County, MN who reported getting any amount of moderate exercise and used a computer at any point in the previous year were 64% less likely to have mild cognitive impairment compared to those who reported neither of those activities. This is the first study to explore the combined effects of physical activity and computer use, which could be indicators of a disciplined and healthy lifestyle.

PositiveTip: Daily physical activity and mental stimulation could help keep your body and mind spry!

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Moderate Exercise Reduces Onset of Arthritis Symptoms

Moderate exercise reduced the onset of arthritis symptoms in women age 72-79 by 46%.

The Australian Longitudinal Study of Women followed two groups of women (ages 48-55 and 72-79) for three years who had reported no arthritis symptoms. Those exercising 1.5 hours per week experienced significantly less arthritis symptoms, and 2.5 hours per week showed an even greater preventive effect. Moderately active middle age women reduced their risk by 29% while the older age group reduced it by 46%.

PositiveTip: The older we get the greater the benefit of exercise. It helps prevent arthritis symptoms and aids in better management of the pain and stiffness.

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Volunteering Promotes Health in Older Adults

Volunteering in schools improves seniors' health, especially those with poorer health.

Seniors who volunteered in elementary schools teaching children to read for 15 hours a week for 9 months, were found to have better physical condition than before volunteering. Those in fair health prior to volunteering improved the greatest, with improved strength and energy, walking speed and stair-climbing.

PositiveTip: Volunteering to help others improves both mental and physical vitality of seniors.

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New Exercise Guide for Seniors

New exercise guide for seniors. It's free!

You read and hear it everywhere: we all need more physical activity! Have you wondered how to get it and what to do? The National Institutes on Aging (NIA) has updated its very popular exercise guide for those over 55 years of age. It is also applicable for those younger as well--you will reach 55 some day!