Exercise/Athletic 2

Exercise may help prevent brain damage caused by Alzheimer's disease

August 15, 2011

Science Daily/Elsevier

Regular exercise could help prevent brain damage associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's, according to new research.

 

"Exercise allows the brain to rapidly produce chemicals that prevent damaging inflammation," said Professor Jean Harry, who led the study at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States. "This could help us develop a therapeutic approach for early intervention in preventing damage to the brain."

 

Previous research has already demonstrated that exercise after brain injury can help the repair mechanisms. This new study shows that exercise before the onset of damage modifies the brain environment in such a way that the neurons are protected from severe insults.

 

The study used an experimental model of brain damage, in which mice are exposed to a chemical that destroys the hippocampus, an area of the brain which controls learning and memory. Mice that were exercised regularly prior to exposure produced an immune messenger called interleukin-6 in the brain, which dampens the harmful inflammatory response to this damage, and prevents the loss of function that is usually observed.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110815095727.htm

 

Physical Activity, School Performance May Be Linked

January 4, 2012

Science Daily/JAMA and Archives Journals

A systematic review of previous studies suggests that there may be a positive relationship between physical activity and the academic performance of children, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

 

"According to the best-evidence synthesis, we found strong evidence of a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance. The findings of one high-quality intervention study and one high-quality observational study suggest that being more physically active is positively related to improved academic performance in children," the authors comment.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120102180846.htm

 

Grow kids' brains through sport

November 11, 2015

Science Daily/Université de Montréal

Organized extracurricular sport activities for children help them develop and improve cognitive skills, such as greater concentration capacity, that can in term greatly help them in the classroom, suggests a researcher.

 

In addition to being a professor at the university's School of Psychoeducation, Pagani is also a researcher at Montreal's CHU Sainte-Justine Children's hospital. Her work focuses on childhood development and the identification of factors that impact on kids as they grow up, with a view to helping parents, teachers and organizations to prioritize positive activities and behaviours. Some of her most recent research looks specifically at the impact of team sports. "We worked with information provided by parents and teachers to compare kindergarteners' activities with their classroom engagement as they grew up," Pagani said. "By time they reached the fourth grade, kids who played structured sports were identifiably better at following instructions and remaining focused in the classroom. There is something specific to the sporting environment -- perhaps the unique sense of belonging to a team to a special group with a common goal -- that appears to help kids understand the importance of respecting the rules and honoring responsibilities."

 

Mr. Mico Delianova Licastro, the Italian National Olympic Committee's US representative and organizer of the symposium, underscored that Prof. Pagani's findings support the work his organization has been undertaking for years. "Coni is keenly aware of the need for children to start at a very early age to engage in an active life style and to participate in organized sports in and out of school when of the proper age," Delianova Licastro said. "Coni is present in several countries with large populations of citizens of Italian descent, like here in the USA, to organize for the children of our communities' all-in sports competitions, ludic events and to promote a healthy diet."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151111092546.htm

When it comes to children's ability to think, weight and activity level both matter

October 27, 2015

Science Daily/Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University

Weight and physical activity levels are both factors in a child's ability to acquire and use knowledge, a new study finds. Children who were lean and active scored better on cognitive tests than either their lean, inactive peers or overweight, inactive children, according to the study, which provides some of the first evidence that weight, independent of physical activity, is a factor.

 

"The question this paper asks that has not been asked before is whether it is just fitness that influences children's cognition," said Dr. Catherine Davis, clinical health psychologist at the Georgia Prevention Institute at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University. "What we found is weight and physical activity both matter."

 

Children who were lean and active scored better on cognitive tests than either their lean, inactive peers or overweight, inactive children, according to the study in the journal Pediatric Exercise Science. The study provides some of the first evidence that weight, independent of physical activity, is a factor.

 

The study looked at 45 normal-weight children age 7-11, including 24 who were active and 21 who weren't. Children were considered physically active if they participated in organized activities such as swimming, gymnastics, soccer or dance for more than an hour per week. Researchers corroborated this participation with an adult, and children self-reported their physical activity. The study also looked at 45 inactive, overweight children with very similar demographics, with exact matches on gender and race, and close matches on other relevant issues such as parents' marital status and education level and age to help ensure any differences were not strongly linked to socioeconomic status.

 

As expected, the 24 normal-weight, physically active children had a lower body mass index, or BMI, less fat and a lower resting heart rate than the overweight, inactive children.

 

When researchers used the well-verified Cognitive Assessment System, the advantages continued to hold. For example, comparing the active, healthy-weight group with the overweight, inactive children, the active group scored nine points higher for planning -- things such as figuring out and carrying out a strategy and using knowledge -- and eight points higher for their ability to pay attention.

 

Weight as an independent factor among inactive children generated an even bigger difference in the ability to pay attention, with normal-weight inactive children scoring 12 points higher. Those kinds of numbers could be the difference between a child being average in terms of his cognitive function and at the top end of the normal range, Davis said. In fact, the thinner, inactive kids scored higher on attention as well as a summary measure of cognition than their heavier peers.

 

Still, comparing inactive and active children who were all a healthy weight showed that activity alone clearly provided an edge, with the active children scoring higher in most areas of cognitive function, including 11 points higher for their ability to plan and seven points higher in attention.

 

"Activity made a difference even among normal-weight kids. That verifies that physical activity makes a difference in brain function," Davis said. The good news is that children, with the help of their families and schools, have time to make healthy lifestyle changes that will modify their weight trajectory, she said.

 

"These kids are still growing. If they can cut some of the empty calories out of their diet and pick up the pace on physical activity, they may grow into their weight," Davis said.

 

The long-time investigator of how physical activity affects overweight children was surprised that weight was an independent factor affecting cognition, acknowledging that exactly how and why is unclear. It could be excessive inflammation, hormones, both or neither, Davis said. She noted that while this study focused on weight, it's likely the amount of body fat that actually matters and overweight children in the study consistently had more fat, rather than having a higher weight because of extra muscle mass, for example.

 

Next steps include studies that also include overweight, active kids to see if heavier children derive as much benefit from physical activity as their normal-weight peers, and to learn more about how weight and physical activity relate to children's brain health.

 

Both overweight and inactivity have been independently associated with a cognitive disadvantage in children. Davis published a study in 2011 in Health Psychology that showed regular exercise improves the ability of overweight, previously inactive children to think, plan and even do math. Those who participated in 40 minutes of exercise every day after school garnered even more improvement than those who were active for about 20 minutes daily. That study also used the Cognitive Assessment System as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging, which showed those who exercised experienced increased brain activity in the prefrontal cortex -- an area associated with complex thinking, decision-making and correct social behavior. A later study comparing an after-school exercise program to an after-school sedentary program, showed better brain development in the exercise group.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151027123906.htm

Out of shape? Your memory may suffer

May 2, 2014
Science Daily/Michigan State University
Here's another reason to drop that doughnut and hit the treadmill: A new study suggests aerobic fitness affects long-term memory. "The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time," said a co-author. The study is one of the first to investigate young, supposedly healthy adults. Previous research on fitness and memory has focused largely on children, whose brains are still developing, and the elderly, whose memories are declining.

"The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time," said Kimberly Fenn, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology. The findings speak to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles found in the United States and other Western cultures. A surprising number of the college students in the study were significantly out of shape and did much worse at retaining information than those who were extremely fit, Fenn said.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140502130227.htm

Stroke recovery should include exercise prescription

May 20, 2014
Science Daily/American Heart Association
Exercise prescriptions could significantly reduce disability and the risk of recurrent stroke in survivors who also may face other barriers such as fatigue and depression. The research suggests that stroke survivors should be prescribed exercise because they experience physical deconditioning and lead inactive lifestyles after stroke. That decreases their ability to perform daily living activities and increases their risk of having another stroke.

"There is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise after stroke can improve cardiovascular fitness, walking ability and upper arm strength," said Sandra A. Billinger, P.T., Ph.D., statement lead author and a physical therapist at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. "In addition, emerging research suggests exercise may improve depressive symptoms, cognitive function, memory and quality of life after stroke.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140520162956.htm

Night owls may be more sedentary, less motivated to exercise

June 3, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Night owls are more sedentary and feel that they have a harder time maintaining an exercise schedule, research concludes. People who characterized themselves as night owls reported more sitting time and more perceived barriers to exercise, including not having enough time for exercise and being unable to stick to an exercise schedule regardless of what time they actually went to bed or woke up.

"We found that even among healthy, active individuals, sleep timing and circadian preference are related to activity patterns and attitudes toward physical activity," said principal investigator Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois. "Waking up late and being an evening person were related to more time spent sitting, particularly on weekends and with difficulty making time to exercise."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140603135807.htm

Former athletes finish first in race for top jobs

June 17, 2014
Science Daily/Cornell University
Whether you were a quarterback or point guard, past participation in competitive team sports marks you as a winner in the competition for better jobs, according to a new study. People who played a varsity high school sport are expected to be more self-confident, have more self-respect, and demonstrate more leadership than people who were part of other extracurricular activities.

"Participation in competitive youth sports 'spills over' to occupationally advantageous traits that persist across a person's life," says Kevin M. Kniffin, postdoctoral research associate at Cornell's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and lead researcher.

Research by Kniffen and his co-authors, published online this week in the Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, shows that people who played a varsity high school sport are expected to be more self-confident, have more self-respect, and demonstrate more leadership than people who were part of other extracurricular activities.

Former varsity athletes also reported significantly higher prosocial volunteerism and charitable activities. Also, many ex-jock octogenerians parlayed 65-year-old leadership skills into successful management careers -- some at the highest level.

"In our study of late-career workers, those who earned a varsity letter more than 50 years ago do demonstrate these characteristics more than others -- plus, they donate time and money more frequently than others and possessed great prosocial behavior in their 70s, 80s, and 90s," said Kniffin.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140617164241.htm

Less exercise, not more calories, responsible for expanding waistlines

July 7, 2014
Science Daily/Elsevier
Sedentary lifestyle and not caloric intake may be to blame for increased obesity in the US, according to a new analysis. A study reveals that in the past 20 years there has been a sharp decrease in physical exercise and an increase in average body mass index (BMI), while caloric intake has remained steady. Investigators theorized that a nationwide drop in leisure-time physical activity, especially among young women, may be responsible for the upward trend in obesity rates.

While increased caloric intake is often blamed for rising rates of obesity, no association between these was found in this study; in contrast, an association was found between the trends over time for lack of physical activity and high BMI numbers. "Our findings do not support the popular notion that the increase of obesity in the United States can be attributed primarily to sustained increase over time in the average daily caloric intake of Americans," concludes Dr. Ladabaum. "Although the overall trends in obesity in the United States are well appreciated and obesity prevalence may be stabilizing, our analyses highlight troublesome trends in younger adults, in women, and in abdominal obesity prevalence, as well as persistent racial/ethnic disparities."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707134243.htm

Sitting too much, not just lack of exercise, is detrimental to cardiovascular health

July 7, 2014
Science Daily/UT Southwestern Medical Center
Cardiologists have found that sedentary behaviors may lower cardiorespiratory fitness levels. New evidence suggests that two hours of sedentary behavior can be just as harmful as 20 minutes of exercise is beneficial.

"We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement, and was also associated with better fitness," said Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski, a recent graduate from the UT Southwestern Cardiology Fellowship Training Program and first author of the paper. "So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget."

To stay active and combat sedentary behavior, UT Southwestern preventive cardiologists recommend taking short walks during lunch and throughout the day, using a pedometer to track daily steps, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, hosting walking meetings at work, and replacing a standard desk chair with a fitness ball or even a treadmill desk, if possible.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140707141622.htm

Think fun when exercising and you'll eat less later

July 9, 2014
Science Daily/Cornell Food & Brand Lab
If you think of your next workout as a 'fun run' or as a well-deserved break, you'll eat less afterward, research has shown. However, if you think of it as exercise or as a workout you'll later eat more dessert and snacks, to reward yourself. For beginning or veteran exercisers, the bottom line is this: "Do whatever you can to make your workout fun. Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you're working out instead of working in the office," said one author.

http://images.sciencedaily.com/2014/07/140709095929-large.jpg

These new findings from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab study involved two studies where adults were led on a 2 km walk around a small lake and were either told it was going to be an exercise walk or a scenic walk. In the first study, 56 adults completed their walk and were then given lunch. Those who believed they had been on an exercise walk served and ate 35% more chocolate pudding for dessert than those who believed they had been on a scenic walk.

In the second study, 46 adults were given mid-afternoon snacks after their walk. Those thinking they taken an exercise walk ate 206 more calories of M&Ms, which was over twice as much -- 124% more -- than those who had been told they were on a scenic walk. "Viewing their walk as exercise led them to be less happy and more fatigued," says lead author, Carolina Werle, professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management in France.

Together, these studies point to one reason why people in exercise programs often find themselves gaining weight. According to Werle, the notion is that some exercisers have a tendency to reward themselves by overeating after their workout."

For beginning or veteran exercisers, the bottom line is this: "Do whatever you can to make your workout fun. Play music, watch a video, or simply be grateful that you're working out instead of working in the office," said Brian Wansink, author and Director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. "Anything that brings a smile, is likely to get you to eat less," he added.
Science Daily/SOURCE : http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140709095929.htm

Exercise is the best medicine, study shows

July 11, 2014
Science Daily/Queensland University of Technology
Women would benefit from being prescribed exercise as medicine, according to a study that revealed moderate to high intensity activity is essential to reducing the risk of death in older women. "What we are saying is that high-intensity exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your brain health. Doctors should be developing exercise programs that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities," authors say.

Professor Debra Anderson, from QUT's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, said that in addition to conventional treatments for physical and mental health, health professionals should be prescribing tailored exercise programs for older women.

Professor Anderson and QUT's Dr Charlotte Seib co-authored a paper published in the international journal of midlife health and beyond, Maturitas, which pulls together five years of research looking into the impact of exercise on mental and physical health in women over the age of 50.

"Studies clearly show moderate to vigorous intensity activity can have mental and physical health benefits, particularly when part of broader positive health changes," Professor Anderson said.

"When once we thought that 30 minutes of mild exercise a day was enough to improve health, research is now telling us that older women should be doing at least 30-45 minutes five times a week of moderate to high intensity exercise and by that we mean exercise that leaves you huffing and puffing.

"It's also important that the exercise be tailored to ensure that it is high intensity enough to obtain the positive sustained effects of exercise."

Professor Anderson said studies had shown that high intensity exercise over a sedentary lifestyle significantly reduced the risk of death.

"Older adults who undertake regular physical activity also report significantly less disability, better physical function and that is regardless of their body mass," she said.

"The most active women are more likely to survive than the least physically active women.

"We have an aging population and as a result promoting healthy aging has become an important strategy for reducing morbidity and mortality."

Professor Anderson said research also linked exercise to improvements in mental well-being.

"What we are saying is that high-intensity exercise is not only good for your physical health but also your brain health," she said.

Professor Anderson, who works closely with older women through specialised women's wellness programs, said older women were capable of undertaking a range of activities beyond simply walking.

"Our studies show that mid-to-later in life women are jogging, running, hiking, swimming and riding," she said.

"Doctors should be developing exercise programs that are home-based and easy to incorporate as part of everyday activities."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140711101357.htm

Exercise, relaxation activities positively impact people with social anxiety disorders

July 17, 2014
Science Daily/Queen's University
New research has shed light on how exercise and relaxation activities like yoga can positively impact people with social anxiety disorders. The study found that exercise and relaxation activities literally change the way people perceive the world, altering their perception so that they view the environment in a less threatening, less negative way. For people with mood and anxiety disorders, this is an important breakthrough.

Adam Heenan, a Ph.D. candidate in the Clinical Psychology, has found that exercise and relaxation activities literally change the way people perceive the world, altering their perception so that they view the environment in a less threatening, less negative way. For people with mood and anxiety disorders, this is an important breakthrough.

For his research, Mr. Heenan used point-light displays, a depiction of a human that is comprised of a series of dots representing the major joints. Human point-light displays are depth-ambiguous and because of this, an observer looking at the display could see it as either facing towards them or facing away. Researchers have found people who are socially anxious perceive these figures as facing towards them (i.e., the more threatening way) more often.

"We wanted to examine whether people would perceive their environment as less threatening after engaging in physical exercise or after doing a relaxation technique that is similar to the breathing exercises in yoga (called progressive muscle relaxation)," Mr. Heenan explains. "We found that people who either walked or jogged on a treadmill for 10 minutes perceived these ambiguous figures as facing towards them (the observer) less often than those who simply stood on the treadmill. The same was true when people performed progressive muscle relaxation."

This is important because anxious people display a bias to focus on more threatening things in their environment. In fact, some researchers think that this is how these disorders are perpetuated: People who are anxious focus on anxiety-inducing things and thus become more anxious, in a continuous cycle.

"This is a big development because it helps to explain why exercising and relaxation techniques have been successful in treating and mood and anxiety disorders in the past," says Mr. Heenan, who worked with supervisor Nikolaus Troje (Psychology) on the research.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717124957.htm

Extra exercise helps depressed smokers kick the habit faster

July 22, 2014
Science Daily/Concordia University
People diagnosed with depression need to step out for a cigarette twice as often as smokers who are not dealing with a mood disorder. And those who have the hardest time shaking off the habit may have more mental health issues than they are actually aware of, research suggests. While nearly one in five North American adults are regular smokers, a figure that continues to steadily decline, about 40 per cent of depressed people are in need of a regular drag.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140722142700.htm

Boomers building muscle at the gym -- but where's the passion?

August 6, 2014
Science Daily/Concordia University
Our motivations for exercise, from looking good to having fun, have been evaluated by researchers who find that for the baby boom generation, passion is the most important motivator -- a fact the fitness industry should embrace. “The marketing needs to be about passion, around finding deep personal meaning in physical activity,” one author says. “If you watch people playing tennis or slaloming down a hill, they’re not counting calories.”

In a study recently published in the International Journal of Wellbeing, James Gavin, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Applied Human Sciences, investigates our motivations for exercise, from looking good to having fun. He finds that for the baby boom generation, passion is the most important motivator — a fact the fitness industry should embrace.

He says that once we connect with our passion, motivation can flow backward to sustain participation in cross-training activities: for instance a person will be keener to put in time on the treadmill if she knows it will help her have more fun skiing in winter.

Gavin’s study surveyed 1,885 participants at YMCA facilities across Montreal and examined responses by age-group — breaking answers down by decade, from the teens to 50 and over.  Of four major motivation categories, “toned and fit” was the top motivator in all age groups, followed by “stress reduction.”

Yet perhaps more unexpectedly for a generation who came of age in the era when exercise became a way of life, the two final categories, “mental toughness” (defined as embracing activity for its adventure and challenge) and “fun and friends” (social motivations), both declined with increasing age.

Gavin says he’s surprised by the findings, but less so when he surveys the scene at his local gym. “Exercise is often perceived as a necessary evil. When I go to a gym and look around, I don’t see a lot of excitement or laughter — people are putting in their time almost as prisoners on their solitary workout stations. They’re working away, and relieved when it’s over.”

Although gratified by the effects on their health, many who are dedicated to fitness don’t experience much joy in pursuing active lifestyles, which Gavin says is cause for concern because eventually this lack of deep motivation may cause boomers to stop making the effort.

“What stunned me was when we think of boomers — healthy ambulatory individuals who are reasonably robust and who theoretically have more time on their hands — one might imagine they would want to continue having fun and experiencing personal challenge and growth in what they’re doing,” says Gavin. As a contrast, he points to the excitement and spontaneity that young children display in their physical activities.

Gavin says the results of his study propose a challenge for the fitness industry to move away from machine-dominated options toward personally meaningful and socially connected pursuits. He points to activities where passion happens in the sport itself and physical benefits are wonderful secondary outcomes. Team sports and martial arts are clear examples — even though many older adults mistakenly see themselves as “too old” for these activities.

“The marketing needs to be about passion, around finding deep personal meaning in physical activity,” says Gavin. “If you watch people playing tennis or slaloming down a hill, they’re not counting calories.”
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140806125058.htm

Physically fit kids have beefier brain white matter than their less-fit peers

August 19, 2014
Science Daily/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

"Previous studies suggest that children with higher levels of aerobic fitness show greater brain volumes in gray-matter brain regions important for memory and learning," said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Laura Chaddock-Heyman, who conducted the study with kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman and psychology professor and Beckman Institute director Arthur Kramer. "Now for the first time we explored how aerobic fitness relates to white matter in children's brains."

The team used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI, also called diffusion MRI) to look at five white-matter tracts in the brains of the 24 participants. This method analyzes water diffusion into tissues. For white matter, less water diffusion means the tissue is more fibrous and compact, both desirable traits.

The researchers controlled for several variables -- such as social and economic status, the timing of puberty, IQ, or a diagnosis of ADHD or other learning disabilities -- that might have contributed to the reported fitness differences in the brain.

The analysis revealed significant fitness-related differences in the integrity of several white-matter tracts in the brain: the corpus callosum, which connects the brain's left and right hemispheres; the superior longitudinal fasciculus, a pair of structures that connect the frontal and parietal lobes; and the superior corona radiata, which connect the cerebral cortex to the brain stem.

"All of these tracts have been found to play a role in attention and memory," Chaddock-Heyman said.

The team did not test for cognitive differences in the children in this study, but previous work has demonstrated a link between improved aerobic fitness and gains in cognitive function on specific tasks and in academic settings.

"Previous studies in our lab have reported a relationship between fitness and white-matter integrity in older adults," Kramer said. "Therefore, it appears that fitness may have beneficial effects on white matter throughout the lifespan."

To take the findings further, the team is now two years into a five-year randomized, controlled trial to determine whether white-matter tract integrity improves in children who begin a new physical fitness routine and maintain it over time. The researchers are looking for changes in aerobic fitness, brain structure and function, and genetic regulation.

"Prior work from our laboratories has demonstrated both short- and long-term differences in the relation of aerobic fitness to brain health and cognition," Hillman said. "However, our current randomized, controlled trial should provide the most comprehensive assessment of this relationship to date."

The new findings add to the evidence that aerobic exercise changes the brain in ways that improve cognitive function, Chaddock-Heyman said.

"This study extends our previous work and suggests that white-matter structure may be one additional mechanism by which higher-fit children outperform their lower-fit peers on cognitive tasks and in the classroom," she said.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140819083429.htm

Train your heart to protect your mind

August 25, 2014
Science Daily/University of Montreal
Exercising to improve our cardiovascular strength may protect us from cognitive impairment as we age, according to a new study. "Our body's arteries stiffen with age, and the vessel hardening is believed to begin in the aorta, the main vessel coming out of the heart, before reaching the brain. Indeed, the hardening may contribute to cognitive changes that occur during a similar time frame," explained the first author of the study.

The results demonstrated age-related declines in executive function, aortic elasticity and cardiorespiratory fitness, a link between vascular health and brain function, and a positive association between aerobic fitness and brain function. "The link between fitness and brain function may be mediated through preserved cerebrovascular reactivity in periventricular watershed areas that are also associated with cardiorespiratory fitness," Gauthier said. "Although the impact of fitness on cerebral vasculature may however involve other, more complex mechanisms, overall these results support the hypothesis that lifestyle helps maintain the elasticity of arteries, thereby preventing downstream cerebrovascular damage and resulting in preserved cognitive abilities in later life."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140825084935.htm

Sport, physical activity help against depression

September 16, 2014
Science Daily/University of Bern
Depression is the most frequently diagnosed mental illness. In the western industrial nations, at least every tenth person suffers from depression once in the course of their life. Depression influences physical health more than diabetes or arthritis, clinicians say. Treatment of depression traditionally occurs with antidepressants and psychotherapy. But as research has shown, sport and physical activity partially encounters the same neurophysiological changes as antidepressants.

According to the status of research so far, regularly engaging in sports activities seems to be an effective remedy for reducing symptoms of depression. It is also cost-effective and has very few side effects. However, it still has to be examined whether and above all to which extent sport and physical activity can be a complement or even an alternative to medication for slight depressions.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140916084825.htm

Keeping your eyes on the prize can help with exercise, study finds

October 1, 2014
Science Daily/New York University
The adage that encourages people to keep their 'eyes on the prize' may be on target when it comes to exercise. When walking, staying focused on a specific target ahead can make the distance to it appear shorter and help people walk there faster, psychology researchers have found.

Those in the narrowed attention group perceived the cones to be 28 percent closer than did those in the natural condition group. In addition, those in the narrowed attention group walked 23 percent faster than did those in the natural attention group. Finally, those in the narrowed attention group reported that the walk required less physical exertion than did those in the natural condition group -- a finding that may serve as an incentive to exercise.

"Physical activity is an important component of a healthy lifestyle," Cole remarks. "Interventions that train people to keep their 'eyes on the prize' may play an important role in health and fitness. When goals appear within reach, and when people move faster and experience exercise as easier, they may be especially motivated to continue exercising.

"Given the alarming obesity epidemic in America, strategies that encourage or improve exercise may be particularly important for aiding the nationwide effort to combat obesity and promote healthier living."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141001090324.htm

To reap the brain benefits of physical activity, just get moving

October 29, 2014
Science Daily/Université de Montréal
Everyone knows that exercise makes you feel more mentally alert at any age. But do you need to follow a specific training program to improve your cognitive function? Science has shown that the important thing is to just get moving. It's that simple.

The study compared the effects of different training methods on the cognitive functions of people aged 62 to 84 years. Two groups were assigned a high-intensity aerobic and strength-training program, whereas the third group performed tasks that targeted gross motor activities (coordination, balance, ball games, locomotive tasks, and flexibility). While the aerobics and strength-training were the only exercises that led to physical fitness improvements after 10 weeks (in terms of body composition, VO2 max, and maximum strength), all three groups showed equivalent improvement in cognitive performance.

"For a long time, it was believed that only aerobic exercise could improve executive functions. More recently, science has shown that strength-training also leads to positive results. Our new findings suggest that structured activities that aim to improve gross motor skills can also improve executive functions, which decline as we age. I would like seniors to remember that they have the power to improve their physical and cognitive health at any age and that they have many avenues to reach this goal," concluded Dr. Nicolas Berryman, PhD.
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141029095205.htm

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