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Category Archives: Aging

Getting More Exercise than Guidelines Suggest May Further Lower Death Risk

Doubling to quadrupling the minimum amount of weekly physical activity recommended for U.S. adults may substantially lower the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes, new research finds.

The study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found people who followed the minimum guidelines for moderate or vigorous long-term, leisure physical activity lowered their risk of dying from any cause by as much as 21%. But adults who exercised two to four times the minimum might lower their mortality risk by as much as 31%.

“Our study provides evidence to guide individuals to choose the right amount and intensity of physical activity over their lifetime to maintain their overall health,” study author Dong Hoon Lee said in a news release. Lee is a research associate in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“Our findings support the current national physical activity guidelines and further suggest that the maximum benefits may be achieved by performing medium to high levels of either moderate or vigorous activity or a combination.”

The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic exercise, or a combination of both. That advice is based on federal guidelines for physical activity.

For the new research, a team analyzed 30 years of medical records and mortality data for over 100,000 adults enrolled in two large studies: the all-female Nurses’ Health Study and all-male Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The data included self-reported measures of leisure time physical activity intensity and duration. Participants were an average 66 years old.

In the study, moderate physical activity was defined as walking, lower-intensity exercise, weightlifting and calisthenics. Vigorous activity included jogging, running, swimming, bicycling and other aerobic exercises.

Going above and beyond the recommended minimums reaped greater longevity rewards, especially for moderate physical activity. Extra moderate-intensity exercise – 300 to 600 minutes per week – was associated with a 26%-31% lower risk of death from any cause compared with almost no long-term moderate-intensity exercise. By comparison, people who hit just the minimum goals for moderate physical activity had a lower risk of 20%-21%.

For vigorous physical activity, getting 150 to 300 minutes a week was linked to a 21%-23% lower risk of death from any cause compared to getting none. That compared to a 19% lower risk for people who just met the minimum exercise target.

People who reported meeting the recommendation for moderate physical activity had a 22%-25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, while those who exercised two to four times the recommendation had a 28%-38% lower risk, the analysis found. Those reporting the recommended amount of vigorous physical activity were 31% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease, while those who doubled to quadrupled the recommended target had a 27%-33% lower risk.

Engaging in more than 300 weekly minutes of vigorous or 600 weekly minutes of moderate physical activity did not provide any further reduction in death risk, the study found. But it also did not harm cardiovascular health. Prior research has suggested long-term, high-intensity endurance activities – such as marathons, triathlons and long-distance bicycle races – may increase the risk for cardiovascular problems, including sudden cardiac death.

“This finding may reduce the concerns around the potential harmful effect of engaging in high levels of physical activity observed in several previous studies,” Lee said.

Donna K. Arnett, incoming executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina, said in the release that the findings fit with what is already known about the heart health benefits of regular physical activity.

“We have known for a long time that moderate and intense levels of physical exercise can reduce a person’s risk of both atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and mortality,” said Arnett, who helped write guidelines for cardiovascular disease prevention from the AHA and American College of Cardiology. She was not involved in the new research.

“We have also seen that getting more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or more than 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical exercise each week may reduce a person’s risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease even further, so it makes sense that getting those extra minutes of exercise may also decrease mortality,” she said.

Source: American Heart Association

Study of Sleep in Older Adults Suggests Nixing Naps, Striving for 7-9 hours a Night

Laura Williamson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Napping, as well as sleeping too much or too little or having poor sleep patterns, appears to increase the risk for cardiovascular disease in older adults, new research shows.

The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, adds to a growing body of evidence supporting sleep’s importance to good health. The American Heart Association recently added sleep duration to its checklist of health and lifestyle factors for cardiovascular health, known as Life’s Essential 8. It says adults should average seven to nine hours of sleep a night.

“Good sleep behavior is essential to preserve cardiovascular health in middle-aged and older adults,” said lead author Weili Xu, a senior researcher at the Aging Research Center in the department of neurobiology, care sciences and society at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. “We encourage people to keep nighttime sleeping between seven to nine hours and to avoid frequent or excessive napping.”

Prior research has shown poor sleep may put people at higher risk for a range of chronic illnesses and conditions affecting heart and brain health. These include cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 35% of U.S. adults say they get less than seven hours of sleep, while 3.6% say they get 10 or more hours.

Previous sleep duration studies show that sleeping too much or too little both may raise the risk for cardiovascular disease. But whether napping is good or bad has been unclear.

In the new study, researchers analyzed sleep patterns for 12,268 adults in the Swedish Twin Registry. Participants were an average of 70 years old at the start of the study, with no history of major cardiovascular events.

A questionnaire was used to collect data on nighttime sleep duration; daytime napping; daytime sleepiness; the degree to which they considered themselves a night person or morning person, based on the time of day they considered themselves most alert; and symptoms of sleep disorders, such as snoring and insomnia. Participants were followed for up to 18 years to track whether they developed any major cardiovascular problems, including heart disease and stroke.

People who reported sleeping between seven and nine hours each night were least likely to develop cardiovascular disease, a finding in keeping with prior research. Compared with that group, those who reported less than seven hours were 14% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, and those who reported more than 10 hours were 10% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

Compared with people who said they never napped, those who reported napping up to 30 minutes were 11% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. The risk increased by 23% if naps lasted longer than 30 minutes. Overall, those who reported poor sleep patterns or other sleep issues – including insomnia, heavy snoring, getting too much or too little sleep, frequent daytime sleepiness and considering themselves a night person – had a 22% higher risk

Study participants who reported less than seven hours of sleep at night and napping more than 30 minutes each day had the highest risk for cardiovascular disease – 47% higher than those reporting the optimal amount of sleep and no naps.

The jury is still out on whether naps affect cardiovascular risk across the lifespan, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, center director for the Sleep Center of Excellence and an associate professor at Columbia University in New York City. She noted that the new research, which she was not involved in, was restricted to older adults.

Rather than trying to recoup sleep time by napping, people should try to develop healthier sleep habits that allow them to get an optimal amount of sleep at night, St-Onge said. This includes making sure the sleep environment is not too hot or cold or too noisy. Reducing exposure to bright light before going to sleep, not eating too late at night, getting enough exercise during the day and eating a healthful diet also help.

“Even if sleep is lost during the night, excessive napping is not suggested during the day,” Xu said. And, if people have persistent trouble getting enough sleep, they should consult a health care professional to figure out why, she said.

Source: American Heart Association

Sarcopenia Reversible by Diet

Ying H Gao-Balch wrote . . . . . . . . .

Sarcopenia is a disease associated with aging. This condition cause loss of muscle mass and strength, which affects balance, and overall ability to perform tasks of daily living. What are the factors to impact on muscle loss? Physiological of change with Aging; like hormone decline, unbalance of muscle anabolism and catabolism, protein requirements change, as well become more sedentary of lifestyle. Long-term inflammatory disease can result in the disruption of the healthy balance between teardown and healing processes, the medical conditions that are causing stress on the body.

Along with Aging, the hormones, cytokines make more human pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, for example, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), Interleukin (IL)-6, and with increasing C-reactive protein, as evidence of systemic inflammation with Aging. More sedentary of lifestyle. Even, periods of decreased activity can become a muscle strength decreases, resulting in more fatigue and making it more challenging to return to regular exercise.

Although some sarcopenias are a natural consequence of Aging, others are preventable. Studies show sarcopenia can be reversed, and muscle loss decreased. A healthy diet and reasonable exercise can reverse sarcopenia, which increases lifespan and improve quality of life.

Three nutrients that fight sarcopenia

First, Protein of intake to digest and absorption with aging-associated with a progressive decline in the sense of test bud, medical conditions with the teeth, gums and swallowing, or increased difficulty shopping and cooking, a diet is providing low calories and low -protein of eating pattern of result in weight loss and diminished muscle mass, lower rates of protein synthesis and whole-body proteolysis in response to an anabolic stimulus. Therefore, protein malnutrition may also play an important role that can make a dramatic difference in muscle function and mass.

The optimal health for older people depends on maintaining muscle mass, which requires higher than minimal amounts of dietary protein. Consuming enough dietary protein directly signals muscle tissue to grow and strengthen. That is why eating more protein is even more critical during the elder years. Whey is the by-product of the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained, that is stimulating of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) to make whey digested more rapidly and to have a higher Leucine content. The amino acid Leucine, which is one of the building blocks of protein, is particularly essential for stimulating muscle growth. There are rich sources of Leucine include whey protein, meat, fish and eggs as well as soy protein isolate.

Dietary guideline for American recommended daily allowance (RDA) or protein, which is only 0.8 grams/kilo/per day dietary protein intake. However, for optimizing physical function with Aging, Nowson and O’Connell recommend a protein intake of to 1.0 to 1.3 grams/kg/per day with resistance exercise.

The second essential nutrient is that Vitamin D, which is the primary function, is cell management. Vitamin D is a hormone, and its activation in the body requires a functioning liver and kidneys. Vitamin D of deficiency is related to sarcopenia; but the exact reason why is not very well understand. Vitamin D functions have activated the innate and reduce the adaptive immune systems. The less intake of vitamin D is associated with Infectious diseases.

The primary natural source of the vitamin D is the synthesis of Vitamin D in the skin from per-Vitamin D through a chemical reaction that is dependent on exposure sun (specifically UVB radiation). For eradicate rickets, milk was fortified vitamin D providing a dietary source of the vitamin. One cup serving of milk provides one day request. The RDA for vitamin D was recently revised. New research indicates that people age 1-70 need 15 micrograms per day, and adults over age 70 need 20 micrograms per day. Most of Dietary Reference Intake (DRI)s go down with age, but the DRI for vitamin D goes up.

The omega -3 fatty acids are beneficial for lowering inflammation levels in healthy people. Consumption of omega−3 fatty acids from seafood reduces blood markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and TNF alpha. A study of women and men eating a diet and a daily 2g of omega-3fish oil supplement combined with resistance training increased muscle strength are compared without fish oil with resistance training women group, due to the omega-3 fatty acid have benefits to anti-inflammatory. Resulting in research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids might also signal muscle growth directly.

An omega-3 fatty acid most widely available in oily fish, such those the North Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans including mackerel, salmon, sea bass and halibut, oil fish have around seven times than artificial feeding. Eggs produced by fed a diet with a natural resource contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Eggs and meat of content with omega -3 of amounted depended on diet feeding. There is no omega -3 fatty acids intake by RDA. The World Health Organization recommends regular fish consumption (1-2 servings per week) as protective against coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Sounds of the best way to getting enough to intake omega -3 fatty acids. Whereas, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended for the safely consume up to a total of 3 grams per day, as well with no more than 2 grams per day from dietary supplements.


Optimal health of older people depends on maintaining muscle mass. Optimizing diet and nutrition throughout the life cycle is vital in preventing sarcopenia and promoting functional ability in older age. Nutritional science also faces the challenge to design a balanced diet, which includes adequate protein, vitamin D, and omega -3 fatty acids to meet the nutrient requirements of older people.

Source: Open Access Text

Keep Bones Healthy Over 65

It’s true that our bones tend to lose strength as we get older. But even in later years, there’s plenty we can do to prevent falls and fractures.

Stay active

Being inactive makes your muscles and bones lose strength. This increases your risk of osteoporosis, falls and fractures.

Moderate-intensity exercise

People over 65 should try to get 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) of moderate-intensity exercise every week. It’s best to do some exercise every day, spread across the day. Doing something is always better than doing nothing. Exercise outdoors if you can and build up slowly.

Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

One way to tell if you’re exercising at a moderate level is if you can still talk but can’t sing the words to a song.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities include:

  • walking
  • water aerobics
  • ballroom and line dancing
  • riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • playing doubles tennis
  • pushing a lawn mower

Activities for strength

You should also try to do activities to improve muscle strength at least twice a week.

This could include:

  • lifting weights
  • dancing
  • carrying groceries
  • going up and down stairs
  • exercising to music
  • heavy gardening, such as digging or shovelling
  • yoga

Activities for balance and flexibility

It’s also a good idea to do activities to improve balance and flexibility twice a week as this can reduce your risk of falling.

Activities such as yoga or tai chi are best for this. These types of activity can also ease stiffness and unsteadiness associated with painful joints.

You can do activities twice a week that combine moderate-intensity exercise with improving your strength, balance and flexibility or you can do different activities.

You should also try to avoid sitting around for long periods. If you find you have been sitting for more than about 20 to 30 minutes, get up and go for a stroll.

If you have a health condition such as heart disease or arthritis, you may be able to join a suitable group exercise class.

Exercising with osteoporosis

If you have a high fracture risk or spinal fractures caused by osteoporosis, you need to look after your back.

It’s especially important to bend your knees when lifting objects. Avoid movements that involve awkward bending and lifting movements.

You may need to be cautious about some types of high impact exercises. Your GP can advise you about this.

Eating for healthy bones

Some people find their appetite starts to drop as they get older. Eating less can make it more difficult to get the nutrients you need to keep muscles and bones healthy.

Staying active will help to keep your appetite up. But if you don’t feel like eating much some days, it’s still important to try to stick to a healthy, balanced diet.

For healthy muscles and bones, you need calcium, vitamin D and protein:

  • calcium keeps our bones and teeth healthy
  • vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium
  • protein is important for muscle maintenance

Another reason to eat a balanced diet is that it will help you to maintain a healthy body weight. Keep your weight up. Being underweight is linked to a higher risk of fractures.

If your diet isn’t as good as it should be, you may want to consider taking a dietary supplement.

Go for one that contains calcium and vitamin D. Your GP or pharmacist can help you choose one that’s suitable for you.

Some medicines can affect your appetite. If you think a medicine you’re taking may be affecting your appetite, perhaps because it makes you feel nauseous, talk with your pharmacist or GP. They may be able to suggest an alternative.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for both strong muscles and healthy bones. Our bodies make vitamin D from the action of the summer sunlight (from late March/April to the end of September) on our skin. All adults are advised to consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement, particularly during the winter months (October to March).

People who are not often exposed to the sun should take a daily vitamin D supplement throughout the year.

These include people who:

  • are not often outdoors, such as those who are frail or housebound
  • are in an institution, such as a care home
  • usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors

People with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean and south Asian origin, might not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, so they should consider taking a supplement throughout the year.

Some foods contain vitamin D. These include oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, eggs, foods fortified with vitamin D such as fat spreads, and some breakfast cereals.

But it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone.

If you have osteoporosis, your GP may prescribe a calcium supplement, too.

Other ways to protect your bones

Other things to consider to help prevent falls and fractures:

  • quit smoking and try these tips to help you cut down on alcohol
  • go for an eye test – poor eyesight can affect mobility and balance
  • get your hearing checked – ear problems can affect your balance
  • look after your feet – foot pain can affect your mobility
  • review your medicines with your GP or pharmacist – some medicines can make you feel dizzy or drowsy
  • make your home safer to avoid accidents

It’s important you do not stop taking a medicine without getting advice from a qualified health professional.

Source: NHS

Loss of Male Sex Chromosome With Age Leads to Earlier Death for Men

Approximately 40% of men will lose their male sex chromosome in certain cells by age 70, and that can lead to deadly heart failure, a new study finds.

The loss of the male sex chromosome as many men age causes the heart muscle to scar and can lead to deadly heart failure, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine shows. The finding may help explain why men die, on average, several years younger than women.

UVA researcher Kenneth Walsh, PhD, says the new discovery suggests that men who suffer Y chromosome loss – estimated to include 40% of 70-year-olds – may particularly benefit from an existing drug that targets dangerous tissue scarring. The drug, he suspects, may help counteract the harmful effects of the chromosome loss – effects that may manifest not just in the heart but in other parts of the body as well.

On average, women live five years longer than men in the United States. The new finding, Walsh estimates, may explain nearly four of the five-year difference.

“Particularly past age 60, men die more rapidly than women. It’s as if they biologically age more quickly,” said Walsh, the director of UVA’s Hematovascular Biology Center. “There are more than 160 million males in the United States alone. The years of life lost due to the survival disadvantage of maleness is staggering. This new research provides clues as to why men have shorter lifespans than women.”


While women have two X chromosomes, men have an X and a Y. But many men begin to lose their Y chromosome in a fraction of their cells as they age. This appears to be particularly true for smokers. The loss occurs predominantly in cells that undergo rapid turnover, such as blood cells. (Loss of the Y chromosome does not occur in male reproductive cells, so it is not inherited by the children of men who exhibit Y chromosome loss.) Scientists previously observed that men who suffer Y chromosome loss are more likely to die at a younger age and suffer age-associated maladies such as Alzheimer’s disease. Walsh’s new research, however, is believed to be the first hard evidence that the chromosome loss directly causes harmful effects on men’s health.

Walsh, of UVA’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center,and his team used cutting-edge CRISPR gene-editing technology to develop a special mouse model to better understand the effects of Y chromosome loss in the blood. They found that the loss accelerated age-related diseases, made the mice more prone to heart scarring and led to earlier death. This wasn’t the result of just inflammation, the scientists determined. Instead, the mice suffered a complex series of responses in the immune system, leading to a process called fibrosis throughout the body. This tug-of-war within the immune system, the researchers believe, may accelerate disease development.

The scientists also looked at the effects of Y chromosome loss in human men. They conducted three analyses of data compiled from the UK Biobank, a massive biomedical database, and found that Y chromosome loss was associated with cardiovascular disease and heart failure. As chromosome loss increased, the scientists found, so did the risk of death.


The findings suggest that targeting the effects of Y chromosome loss could help men live longer, healthier lives. Walsh notes that one potential treatment option might be a drug, pirfenidone, that has already been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a form of lung scarring. The drug is also being tested for the treatment of heart failure and chronic kidney disease, two conditions for which tissue scarring is a hallmark. Based on his research, Walsh believes that men with Y chromosome loss could respond particularly well to this drug, and other classes of antifibrotic drugs that are being developed, though more research will be needed to determine that.

At the moment, doctors have no easy way to determine which men suffer Y chromosome loss. Walsh’s collaborator Lars A. Forsberg, of Uppsala University in Sweden, has developed an inexpensive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, like those used for COVID-19 testing, that can detect Y chromosome loss, but the test is largely confined to his and Walsh’s labs. Walsh, however, can foresee that changing: “If interest in this continues and it’s shown to have utility in terms of being prognostic for men’s disease and can lead to personalized therapy, maybe this becomes a routine diagnostic test,” he said.

“The DNA of all our cells inevitably accumulate mutations as we age. This includes the loss of the entire Y chromosome within a subset of cells within men. Understanding that the body is a mosaic of acquired mutations provides clues about age-related diseases and the aging process itself,” said Walsh, a member of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. “Studies that examine Y chromosome loss and other acquired mutations have great promise for the development of personalized medicines that are tailored to these specific mutations.”

The researchers have published their findings in the journal Science.

Source: University of Virginia

Study: Latin Dance May Boost Your Aging Brain

Cara Murez wrote . . . . . . . . .

Latin dance classes may be a great workout and social outlet, but new research suggests that learning the intricate steps of the salsa, samba and merengue may also improve your memory.

In the study, a Latin dance program was offered to more than 300 Spanish speakers over four years at 12 different sites in Chicago.

After eight months of classes, assessments found significant improvement in participants’ working memory scores. Working memory is a type of short-term memory used to keep small amounts of information in mind while partaking in other cognitive tasks.

“We think it worked for several reasons. More time being spent active, that could be a reason. It could be the different components of the dance program itself,” said study author Susan Aguinaga, who worked on the program from its inception while a graduate student at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is now a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“It’s an appealing type of physical activity that they want to continue engaging with,” Aguinaga explained. “In general, populations have a hard time maintaining their physical activity levels, but when it’s an activity that they actually enjoy, then they will be more likely to maintain that activity for longer periods of time.”

It could also simply be the music that’s playing, intriguing dance styles or an activity that’s aerobic, which has previously been shown to improve cognitive performance, Aguinaga said.

“The takeaway is definitely finding an activity that is enjoyable, that is appealing. And if dancing is that activity that provides enjoyment and physical activity and social support, then I think this is an activity that should be promoted more,” Aguinaga said.

The study was a randomized, controlled trial that tested BAILAMOS (Balance and Activity in Latinos, Addressing Mobility in Older Adults), which was co-created by study co-author David Marquez, director of the Exercise and Psychology Lab at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Miguel Mendez, creator and owner of the Dance Academy of Salsa in Illinois. The program includes merengue, salsa, bachata and cha-cha-cha dancing.

In the study, just over 330 Spanish-speaking Hispanic adults were assigned either to twice weekly dance sessions for eight months or to the control group, which had once-weekly health education classes for four months.

The dancers were led by a professional instructor for the first four months, then during the “maintenance phase” were led by participants assigned as “program champions” for their leadership skills and enthusiasm.

While the study found no difference between the groups in cognitive tests at four months, after eight months people in the dance group had better scores.

In dance classes, a person learns several steps and then need to recall those steps the following week and turn them into sequences, Aguinaga explained. Researchers thought the process of recalling steps could target different aspects of memory, but in a fun way.

About 12% of older Hispanics in the United States currently are living with an Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses, the study noted. That number is estimated to increase by 832% by 2060.

“For older Latinos, the thought of promoting dance as exercise is very appealing, given that older Latinos are familiar with dance in some way. They’ve grown up with it, maybe they’ve danced in the past and it’s something that they enjoy,” Aguinaga said. “It might not even be perceived as exercise because it’s a fun activity.”

About 85% of the study participants were women. They had an average age of 65 and their BMI (body mass index) would categorize them as obese.

Program participants reported feeling better overall, making friends and being better able to manage chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, Aguinaga said.

A similar program could potentially benefit people of other races and ethnicities if organizers promoted dances and music that was appealing to whatever population they were targeting, she added.

The findings were published recently in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Dr. Zaldy Tan is medical director of the Jona Goldrich Center for Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, in Los Angeles. He said, “I think that’s one of the strengths of the study is that the population studied and intervention were appropriate and consistent,” noting that the program was specific and culturally sensitive.

“That’s one thing that I always tell my patients is that physical activity is good for them. Good for their heart, good for their brain, but they must pick a physical activity that’s sustainable, that is consistent to their lifestyle,” said Tan, who was not involved with the new study.

Tan said past research on physical activity has been consistent in that it seems to help people maintain their memory and their thinking skills. One of his own studies found that people who had higher rates of physical activity had more robust brains and a lower risk of dementia.

“The exact mechanism is unclear. Certain theories include the fact that exercise produces better blood flow and improves circulation, and improves vascular health. Of course, the brain is a very vascular organ. It requires a lot of blood flow, a lot of oxygen. So, that’s one way that it could benefit it,” Tan said.

Another theory is that exercise induces specific factors that stimulate brain cell growth and health, Tan added.

Senior and community centers are in a great position to create programs like this, though the pandemic has hampered in-person classes for seniors, he noted.

Tan said that while healthy diet, sleep and socialization are all important, exercise is the number one intervention he recommends to patients who have memory issues, or those who may not yet have memory problems but are interested in preserving their health.

“There are really multiple benefits associated with that. Increased strength, better balance, improved memory and, overall, increased cardiovascular health,” Tan said. “It’s something that definitely we should be encouraging.”

Source: HealthDay

Healthy Brain and Body Function Are the Rewards in This Game

As human lifespans increase, new societal challenges arise. In a “superaging society,” in which young people are few and older people are many, caring for the older adult population adequately with limited resources is a difficult balancing act to perform. However, the hope is that by implementing new knowledge of how to keep aging adults healthy, caring responsibilities may be lightened.

In an article that was recently published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, a research team from the University of Tsukuba puts their findings that a game-like intervention called Synapsology helps to improve cognitive function and physical capabilities in older adults and its implications into perspective.

In areas of research such as pathological changes to the brain during aging (for example, mild cognitive impairment and dementia), a lot remains unknown. Although drug therapies to treat dementia are available and more are continually being developed, prevention is arguably the most important area of focus in working toward humankind’s goal of healthy long life. Convincing evidence exists that dual-task exercises, which are performed by the brain and body simultaneously, have the potential to be beneficial for the physical and mental health of older adults. However, as highlighted by the World Health Organization, the weak link in this area of research was the lack of translation of dual-task exercises into practice to yield concrete evidence on efficacy.

“We conducted a study to assess the effects of 60-minute sessions of Synapsology twice per week,” says Professor Jieun Yoon. “The exercises combined body movement with tasks that stimulate frontal, temporal, and occipital brain activity. We found that, in comparison with older adults aged 85 to 97 who did not take part, those who did maintained or improved their cognitive and physical abilities over a period of 24 weeks.”

Synapsology is also a cost-effective intervention, because it doesn’t require special tools or facilities. This means that the findings of the study were likely to be useful because Synapsology can be scaled and adapted.

“Furthermore, we used well-known measures to quantify the changes to cognitive and physical function,” adds Professor Yoon, “which means that both the intervention and the assessment can be extended to different populations of older adults to yield sufficient evidence to support the use of this dual-task intervention at a scale that can have a societal impact.”

Some questions remain—such as, can an intervention help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer disease? The team has already begun research that will address this question by simultaneously monitoring biological changes in the brain from the disease and those that may represent cognitive and physical improvements from Synapsology.

Source: University of Tsukuba

Is Slowed Walking a Sign Dementia Is Near?

If you’re a senior and walking to the mailbox takes longer than it used to, new research suggests you might want to ask your doctor to check your thinking skills.

The study included nearly 17,000 adults over 65 and found those who walk about 5% slower or more each year and also had memory declines were the most likely to develop dementia.

The findings were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“These results highlight the importance of gait in dementia risk assessment,” corresponding study author Taya Collyer, a research fellow at Peninsula Clinical School at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, told CNN.

The findings echo those of a 2020 study of nearly 9,000 U.S. adults that found an association between slowed walking speed and memory decline and future risk of dementia.

Research suggests the link between walking speed and decreasing mental function may be due to shrinking in the right hippocampus, a part of the brain that handles learning, memories and the ability to find your way around, CNN reported.

At the same time, previous studies have also found that aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling and dancing can enlarge the hippocampus and improve some areas of memory.

And just because someone has what’s called mild cognitive impairment (MCI) doesn’t mean they’ll go on to develop dementia. Only 10% to 20% of those 65 and older with MCI develop dementia within a year, according to the U.S. National Institute on Aging, which also states that in “many cases, the symptoms of MCI may stay the same or even improve.”

Source: HealthDay

China’s Big Four Banks to Pilot Retirement Savings Products

Peng Qinqin, Wu Xiaomeng and Zhang Yukun wrote . . . . . . . . .

China’s major state-owned banks will launch a pilot program for retirement savings products in several regions soon, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin, in what would be the country’s latest effort to mitigate a looming pensions crisis.

The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission will let the so-called big four banks — Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank — offer the first batch of products, according to the sources.

China hopes to shore up its state-dominated pension system, which could run out of funds in the near future. Policymaker strategy involves developing a private pension system in which people invest in various products of their choice, including deposits, mutual funds, commercial pension insurance plans and wealth management products managed by banks and their subsidiaries.

Under the pilot program, each of the participating banks will accept no more than 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) for investment in retirement savings products, which will likely be similar to long-term deposit products, with terms ranging from five to 10 years, the sources said. The banks may be able to set interest rates higher than the upper limits on fixed deposits allowed by the central bank-governed self-discipline mechanism for setting market interest rates.

To attract customers, the interest rates of retirement savings products can’t be too low, said a person at a major bank. Another banking source said the regulator may encourage the banks to set interest rates comparable to 10-year government bond yields.

The CBIRC didn’t respond to a Caixin request for comment as of press time.

A CBIRC announcement released this week said that retirement savings products should fulfill customers’ long-term retirement needs and have certain requirements on the withdrawal of funds.

“A large proportion of Chinese residents save their money in banks, but most of the deposits are short-term ones of less than five years. Options for long-term investments are limited, and many flow to the real estate market,” said a source with ties to regulators.

Retirement savings will provide not only a new long-term investment option, but also an important source of long-term funds for the capital market, the source said.

Source : Asia Nikkei

Your Personality May Safeguard Your Aging Brain

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Certain personality traits may make older adults more or less vulnerable to waning memory and thinking skills, a new study suggests.

The study, of nearly 2,000 older adults, found that those high on the “conscientious” scale — organized, self-disciplined and productive — were less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment. That refers to subtler problems with memory and other mental skills that sometimes precede dementia.

On the other end of the spectrum were older folks high in neuroticism — a tendency to be anxious, moody and vulnerable to stress. They had an increased risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, versus people low on the neuroticism scale.

The findings, published April 11 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, add to evidence linking personality to cognitive health as we age.

Personality matters, experts said, because it influences health-related choices ranging from exercise to smoking, as well as broader attitudes — including whether you believe you can make positive changes.

“Personality traits reflect an individual’s persistent patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving,” said Tomiko Yoneda, a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago, who led the study.

People who are high in conscientiousness, for example, are inclined to eat well, exercise and engage in other healthy behaviors, while avoiding risks like smoking.

Those tendencies may explain their lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, according to Yoneda, who was based at the University of Victoria, in Canada, at the time of the study.

In contrast, she said, people high on the neuroticism scale often have “unhealthy coping styles” to deal with anxiety, depression and emotional instability.

Angelina Sutin is a professor at Florida State University College of Medicine who studies personality traits and health.

Sutin agreed that lifestyle behaviors, over the course of a lifetime, are likely a major reason that personality traits are associated with older adults’ memory and thinking skills.

But it goes beyond things like diet, exercise and smoking, too, Sutin said. Personality influences a person’s likelihood of exploring new experiences, for example, or being socially active. Both mental and social stimulation are thought to support healthy brain aging.

There is also evidence linking personality traits to the likelihood of having chronic low-level inflammation in the body — a state that can contribute to a range of diseases.

But lest anxious people get anxious about developing cognitive impairment, Sutin stressed that personality is not “destiny.”

Cognitive decline and dementia are complex, with many factors coming into play. And while personality tends to be relatively stable throughout life, it is not set in stone, either.

Both Sutin and Yoneda pointed to research showing that personality can be nudged in a positive direction when people make concerted efforts to notice and alter certain habitual thoughts and behaviors.

People high in neuroticism, for example, can improve their emotional stability, while dedicated introverts can come out of their shells a bit to be more socially engaged.

“You won’t radically change who you are,” Sutin said. Instead, she added, it’s about making achievable shifts: People high on the neuroticism scale, for instance, could decide to be a little more organized in their daily routines.

The current findings are based on 1,954 older adults who were part of a long-term study of memory and aging that began in the 1990s. Participants answered standard questions gauging personality traits, and then had annual assessments of their cognitive skills, for up to 23 years.

Overall, Yoneda’s team found, the odds of developing mild impairment declined 22% for each 6-point increase on the conscientiousness scale (which ranges from 0 to 48). In contrast, that risk rose by 12% with every 7-point jump on the neuroticism scale (also 0 to 48).

In a related finding, highly conscientious seniors also lived longer in good cognitive health: An 80-year-old, for example, could expect to live an extra two years without impairment, versus a peer who was low on the conscientiousness scale.

Again, though, Sutin stressed that people do not have to be ruled by their personalities.

Instead, she said, understanding your own personality, and how it motivates your thinking and behavior, is helpful: You may be able to “take a step back” when a stressful situation arises, and choose a better coping strategy.

Source: HealthDay