Exercise and Weight Loss Give Brain a Boost
Study finds that getting fit helped overweight, inactive adults sharpen their thinking skills, too
Regular high-intensity exercise is not only good for your body, it’s also good for your brain, researchers report.Their new study included overweight and inactive adults, average age 49, who underwent tests to assess their thinking, decision-making and memory skills — also known as cognitive function.
In addition, follow-up testing showed that the participants’ brain function had also improved, and that the increases were proportional to the improvements in exercise capacity and body weight. Simply put, the more they could exercise and the more weight they had lost, the greater their improvement in thinking skills, the investigators found.
“If you talk to people who exercise, they say they feel sharper. Now we’ve found a way to measure that,” Dr. Martin Juneau, director of prevention at the Montreal Heart Institute, said in Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada news release.
Blood flow to the brain increases during exercise. The more fit you are, the more that blood flow increases, Juneau explained.”It’s reassuring to know that you can at least partially prevent that decline by exercising and losing weight,” Juneau said in the news release.
While the study found an association between increased physical fitness and improved thinking skills, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.More information
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers a guide to physical activity.
Wellness To-Do List: Keep Bones Strong and Healthy
by Dr. Jamie McManus
When you think about getting healthy, what comes to mind first? If you are like most Americans, you first think about losing weight or maybe trying to eat less fat to lower cholesterol levels. While these are both important, in my opinion there is probably nothing more critical to your health than having strong bones! Your skeleton holds you up and together. The 236 bones that make up your skeleton anchor your muscles in place and protect your vital organs—including your brain. And did you know your skeleton completely replaces itself every 12 months or so? That’s right—the cells of your bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt again. Your highest bone density is reached in your 20s—after that, it is a lifelong process to maintain that bone density. Factors such as aging, menopause, smoking, and anorexia can increase bone loss, but everyone— yes, men and women—is at risk to develop osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become porous and less dense, and are more likely to break. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, this condition affects 44 million Americans, and by 2020, half of all American over age 50 are expected to have osteoporosis. In honor of Osteoporosis Awareness Month, here are the THREE most important things you can do to keep your bones strong and healthy:
1) Consume adequate amounts of calcium. Men and women between the ages of 18 to 50 need about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Women over age 50 and men over age 70 should increase that total to at least 1,200 mg per day. This equates to 4 servings of dairy products such as milk or yogurt. If you don’t consume dairy products, consider fortified soy products or soy milk, and dark, leafy green vegetables (broccoli is my personal favorite). To ensure your calcium intake is adequate, consider a calcium supplement. Supplemental calcium is best absorbed when consumed in amounts of 500 mg or so and taken with a meal.
2) Get plenty of vitamin D. Vitamin D is absolutely essential for your body to absorb and utilize calcium. Recent studies suggest up to 80% of adults may have insufficient vitamin D levels in the blood. This may be due to a number of factors. Although scientists don’t know exactly what the optimal daily intake of vitamin D is yet, a good starting place is between 1,000 and 2,000 IU per day, and I urge all adults to ask your doctor to run a vitamin D blood test.
3) Exercise, exercise, exercise. It not only helps build strong bones, but it slows down bone loss. Strength-training exercises that work your upper body—your arms and upper spine—are great, especially when combined with weight-bearing activities such as walking, jogging, and stair-climbing that work your lower body—including your lower back, hips, and legs. Osteoporosis is not an inevitable part of getting older. Although some risk factors—such as age, race, and family history—can’t be changed, it’s never too late to start improving your eating habits, increasing your exercise levels, and taking supplements to help maintain your bone strength and integrity.
- Five on Friday: Protect Those Bones (acommonsea.wordpress.com)
- Osteoporosis Tips: Diet and Exercise for Stronger, Healthier Bones (webmd.com)
- Osteoporosis ~ a silent thief (thinkloud65.wordpress.com)
Super Wellness For Super kids
Children grow at a much faster rate during their first few years than at any other time in their lives, stressing the need for parents to ensure optimal nutrition. Of special importance are macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) that provide calories and essential vitamins and minerals critical to proper growth, development, and immune function—including all eight B vitamins and vitamins C, A, and D, as well as calcium, iron, and zinc. In addition, growing children should achieve adequate intakes of omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA, which is essential for early brain and eye development.
Although specific nutrient needs vary throughout the different stages of life, there is probably not a more critical time for optimal nutrition than during childhood—especially early childhood. Good nutrition is absolutely essential for the development of healthy bodies that will thrive with abundant energy, healthy brain function, a responsive immune system, and strong bones and teeth. Healthful eating and exercise habits established during childhood also will help reduce the risk of obesity as well as many degenerative and lifestyle-related diseases of adulthood, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and other conditions related to nutrition, weight, and lifestyle. In other words, acquiring beneficial lifestyle habits early in life, making nutritious and healthful food choices, being physically active, and filling in nutritional gaps with the appropriate dietary supplements can provide a strong foundation for a lifetime of health and wellness.
For more information on supplements click HERE.
- Healthy Eating in Children: Problems Caused by Poor Nutrition – Children’s Health (vickycolas.wordpress.com)