Does Excercise Change Your Brain?

by Gretche3n Reynolds
At the age of 93, Olga Kotelko — one of the most successful and acclaimed nonagenarian track-and-field athletes in history — traveled to the University of Illinois to let scientists study her brain.

Ms. Kotelko held a number of world records and had won hundreds of gold medals in masters events. But she was of particular interest to the scientific community because she hadn’t begun serious athletic training until age 77. So scanning her brain could potentially show scientists what late-life exercise might do for brains.

Ms. Kotelko died last year at the age of 95, but the results of that summer brain scan were published last month in Neurocase.

And indeed, Ms. Kotelko’s brain looked quite different from those of other volunteers aged 90-plus who participated in the study, the scans showed. The white matter of her brain — the cells that connect neurons and help to transmit messages from one part of the brain to another — showed fewer abnormalities than the brains of other people her age. And her hippocampus, a portion of the brain involved in memory, was larger than that of similarly aged volunteers (although it was somewhat shrunken in comparison to the brains of volunteers decades younger than her).

Over all, her brain seemed younger than her age.

But because the scientists didn’t have a scan showing Ms. Kotelko’s brain before she began training, it’s impossible to know whether becoming an athlete late in life improved her brain’s health or whether her naturally healthy brain allowed her to become a stellar masters athlete.

And that distinction matters. Before scientists can recommend exercise to forestall cognitive decline, they need to establish that exercise does in fact slow cognitive decline.

So far, much of the available evidence has been weak. Many epidemiological studies show that physically active older people perform better on cognitive tests than their sedentary counterparts. But those studies were associational and leave many questions unanswered.

A new experiment by the same group of researchers who scanned Ms. Kotelko’s brain, however, bolsters the idea that exercise makes a difference in aging brains.

In the study, published last month in PLOS One, Agnieszka Burzynska, now an assistant professor of human development at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and colleagues at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois in Urbana scanned the brains of older men and women, aged 60 and 80, using a technique that tracks oxygen delivery to cells to determine brain activity. The researchers also measured their volunteers’ aerobic capacity and asked them to wear an activity monitor for a week to determine how much and how intensely they moved each day.

Notably, the most physically active elderly volunteers, according to their activity tracker data, had better oxygenation and healthier patterns of brain activity than the more sedentary volunteers — especially in parts of the brain, including the hippocampus, that are known to be involved in improved memory and cognition, and in connecting different brain areas to one another. Earlier brain scan experiments by Dr. Burzynska and her colleagues had established that similar brain activity in elderly people is associated with higher scores on cognitive tests.

Interestingly, as Dr. Burzynska points out, none of these volunteers were athletes, as Ms. Kotelko was. In fact, none of them formally exercised at all. But those who walked, gardened and simply moved more each day had brains that appeared to be in better shape than those of the other volunteers.

Of course, while this research offers tantalizing clues as to why exercise may be good for the brain, the study, like Ms. Kotelko’s scan, cannot prove cause and effect.

So, fundamentally, we still do not know whether and how physical activity changes our minds — a confusion that most likely was intensified for many of us by the results of a well-publicized study published last month in JAMA. In it, researchers from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and other universities asked sedentary, elderly men and women, between the ages of 70 and 89, to start walking and doing light resistance training while other volunteers joined a health education program to serve as a control group.

To measure whether exercise made a difference in brain health, all of the participants completed cognitive testing at the beginning and the end of the study.

On the surface, the results were discouraging. The scores for the people in the exercise group were unchanged after two years and about the same as the scores for the group that attended health classes, intimating that exercise had had no effect.

But look deeper and there is another, intriguing inference. The cognitive performance of the volunteers in both groups remained stable, instead of declining, as might have been expected at their ages. So it may be that exercise did keep the volunteers’ minds sharp — and so did getting out and attending classes and engaging socially with the world.

“There are so many things that may impact brain aging,” Dr. Burzynska said, “and so much that we don’t yet understand about the process.”

Scientists need to scan people’s brains before and after long-term exercise programs, she said, and parse how exercise affects the many different varieties of thinking. In the JAMA study, for instance, there were some small improvements among the oldest exercising volunteers in their working memory and attention, but not other cognitive skills.

But even in advance of more studies, it “seems very likely,” Dr. Burzynska said, that exercise enables our brains to age better, even if, like Ms. Kotelko, we get started a little later in life.
http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/physed-4/?ref=health&_r=0

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Being skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy

There are so many TV shows lately exhibiting an obese person trying to lose weight in order to be healthy. This could be a reminder for some, but being skinny doesn’t necessarily mean that you are healthy either. A new study conducted by an international group of scientists led by Ruth Loos at the Medical Research Council in the UK, found that lean people can be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. After analyzing 75,000 people, they found that leaner people with a specific genetic variant were at higher risk despite their lower body fat.

Scientists advises everyone to  not only focus on the amount of fat, but the type of fat that they might have. The fat that is deposited under the skin doesn’t contribute a lot to the development of metabolic disorders such as diabetes or heart problems. You need to look deeper into the body such as the liver to find the bad fat building up. In other words, skinny people may not have a lot of visible fat from the outside, but they could be collecting visceral fat (bad fat) deep inside their body.

What you think about this article? Is this something you already knew?

Courtesy of Time HealthLand–Read more here!

A simple weight lost trick

AARP claims a new study has been found where middle to older age adults that drink about 2 glasses of water before each meal will lose 30% more weight than those who didn’t. Interesting! This only works for people who are middle aged or older, because younger people need to urinate more frequently. For the older generation, it takes more time for the stomach to empty; therefore they would feel full for a further period of time.  

This study was conducted at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg where they assigned 48 overweight /obese men and women between the ages of 55-75 into two groups.  Both groups were on the same diet, but one group had to drink two 8-ounce cups of water before every meal. The results showed that after 12 weeks, the group that had to drink the glasses of water shed on average 15.5 pounds. On the other hand, the null group lost  11 pounds on average.

Professional Medical Corp also want to remind readers that eating healthy and excerising are  key factors in losing weight!

Have you tried this before?

To read original article: http://aarp.us/bC5OK9

Knee Pain? Eat to feel better…

Besides knee pain, we face daily aches and pains that require more than just a short rest or a nap. Below we have listed AARP’s recommendations for 7 foods that can help battle off those daily ailments.

 

Take the first step with…Ginger.

Long used as a digestive aid, ginger is also an effective painkiller. Almost two-thirds of patients with chronic knee pain reported less soreness upon standing after taking a ginger extract, according to a six-week study from the University of Miami. Those who consumed ginger also reported less pain after walking 50 feet than those taking a placebo — and they needed less pain medication. And new research suggests ginger may also help tackle post-workout pain.

“Ginger relieves pain by blocking an enzyme that’s a key component of the inflammatory process,” says investigator Christopher D. Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Two to three teaspoons a day should do the trick. “That’s not an overwhelming amount,” he says. “You could easily add that to a stir-fry or soup.” Other options include ginger tea and beverages made with fresh ginger.

…Soy

Want to cut your osteoarthritis knee pain by 30 percent or more? Add some soy to your diet. An Oklahoma State University study found that consuming 40 grams of soy protein daily for three months slashed patients’ use of pain medication in half. The secret lies in soy’s isoflavones — plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties, says main study author Bahram H. Arjmandi, Ph.D., R.D., now professor of nutrition, food, and exercise sciences at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Tofu, soy milk, burgers, edamame: All are good options. But be patient. “It takes two or three weeks for it to take effect,” Arjmandi says.

…Turmeric

A recent Thai study found that the spice common in many Indian foods fights the pain of rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as ibuprofen. Turmeric also seems to inhibit the destruction of joints from arthritis, according to National Institutes of Health – supported research on rats at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Turmeric inhibits a protein called NF-kB; when turned on, this protein activates the body’s inflammatory response, leading to achy joints. Investigator Janet L. Funk, M.D., and others are still working out the optimal dose, but “using turmeric as a spice in cooking is safe,” she says.

…Cherries

High amounts of antioxidants called anthocyanins are the key to cherries’ pain-fighting power. In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, participants who ate 45 Bing cherries a day for 28 days reduced their inflammation levels significantly. And a Johns Hopkins study of rats given cherry anthocyanins hinted that anthocyanins might also protect against arthritis pain. Unpublished preliminary data from the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas further showed that a tart-cherry pill reduced pain and improved function in more than 50 percent of osteoarthritis patients over an eight-week period. A cherry-juice drink likewise reduced symptoms of muscle damage among exercising men in a University of Vermont study: Their pain scores dropped significantly compared with the scores of those who did not drink the juice. Pain-calming anthocyanins are also found in blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

…Coffee/Caffeine

Ever wonder why so many over-the-counter cold and headache medicines contain caffeine? Studies show it enhances the effects of common painkillers such as aspirin and acetaminophen. But recent data suggest caffeine has pain-lowering powers of its own — at least when it comes to the pain associated with exercise. University of Georgia researchers showed that moderate doses of caffeine — equivalent to two cups of joe — reduced post-workout pain by almost 50 percent.

And a caffeine buzz may boost your workout. Caffeine seems to raise your pain threshold, making it easier to keep exercising or work out harder than you would have otherwise. Just don’t overdo it. “If you are going to work out, get a cup of coffee on the way,” Black says. “There’s good evidence it makes your muscles feel better

…Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish that help keep your ticker in top shape may also tame the pain or inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and some autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease. Even chronic neck- and back-pain patients can benefit: In an open trial at the University of Pittsburgh, 60 percent of respondents experienced some relief after taking fish oil for three months, and almost as many dropped their pain drugs altogether. “We found we could substitute fish oil in place of drugs — an anti-inflammatory with no side effects in place of pharmaceuticals with side effects,” says Joseph C. Maroon, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the study’s coauthor.

Aim for two to four meals a week of fatty fish such as salmon, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, or trout — all top omega-3 sources. Halibut, light tuna, snapper, and striped bass are good, too. Not a fan of the fin? Consider a daily supplement containing both EPA and DHA — the key omega-3 fats — suggests Maroon. If you are taking a blood thinner, check with your doctor first; omega-3s may increase that drug’s effects

…Red Grapes

This deeply hued fruit contains resveratrol, a powerful compound that blocks the enzymes that contribute to tissue degeneration. The evidence: In lab experiments at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, resveratrol protected against the kind of cartilage damage that causes back pain.

Although the research is preliminary, it can’t hurt to fill up on foods rich in resveratrol, including blueberries and cranberries, which contain other powerful antioxidants as well. Or have a glass of wine. “Resveratrol in red wine is far more easily absorbed due to the form it is in,” says researcher Xin Li, M.D., Ph.D., a biochemistry instructor at Rush.

Naps. They Do a Body Good!

March 16, 2011

Naps. We all want them, we all crave them, but not all of us allow ourselves to take them. Finding yourself in a nap midday can be one of life’s more enjoyable pleasures, but its also an indulgence we have grown to neglect. In our busy lives we find ourselves convinced that napping is not only not allowed, but frowned upon as it attacks the very core of your “super human” status in society. Well, the University of California, Berkeley, would like you to be the first to know, that the nap you have been avoiding, actually wouldnt harm your humanity at all. In fact, a nice midday siesta would indeed make you smarter, more alert, and increase your brain power for your super human day.

In a study done at the University, researchers found that adults who took a midday nap markedly outperformed those who did not on a challenging intellectual task late in the day. The adults were given a challenging task to learn at noon, all performing and learning at similiar rates. Then one group was given a 90 minute nap, while the other group was not . At 6pm, a new challenging task was given to each group and researchers saw the napping group consistently and aggressively outperform those who did not get the gift of a midday snooze. The results confirmed the researchers hypothesis that in fact as we sleep, the brain does a little housekeeping on itself, clearing out the dirt and making room for the new once we awake and continue our day.

The perfect regime? Get a good night’s rest every night. 8 hours would be nice. Include a 60 minute nap midday and you will find you and your brain in optimal health. Of course we still reccommend a balanced diet and excercise, but couple those factors with a fantastic sleep schedule and BAM! the super human you never knew existed will be running the show.

Information Courtesy of: www.aarp.com “Don’t Knock Naps – They Make You Smarter