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Exercise Improves Thinking Skills

Regular aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or climbing stairs may improve thinking skills not only in older people but in young people as well, according to a study published in the January 30, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study also found that the positive effect of exercise on thinking skills may increase as people age.

The specific set of thinking skills that improved with exercise is called executive function. Executive function is a person’s ability to regulate their own behavior, pay attention, organize and achieve goals.

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“As people age, there can be a decline in thinking skills, however our study shows that getting regular exercise may help slow or even prevent such decline,” said study author Yaakov Stern, PhD, of Columbia University in New York, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “We found that all participants who exercised not only showed improvements in executive function but also increased the thickness in an area of the outer layer of their brain.”

“Since a difference of 0.5 standard deviations is equivalent to 20 years of age-related difference in performance on these tests, the people who exercised were testing as if they were about 10 years younger at age 40 and about 20 years younger at age 60,” Stern said.

He added, “Since thinking skills at the start of the study were poorer for participants who were older, our findings suggest that aerobic exercise is more likely to improve age-related declines in thinking skills rather than improve performance in those without a decline.”

Researchers also found an increase in the thickness of the outer layer of the brain in the left frontal area in all those who exercised, suggesting that aerobic exercise contributes to brain fitness at all ages.

“Our research confirms that exercise can be beneficial to adults of any age,” said Stern.

Read more about how “Exercise May Improve Thinking Skills” from ScienceDaily.

When You Eat Matters

Dr Jonathan Johnston from the University of Surrey investigated the impact changing meal times during a 10-week study on time restricted fasting/feeding. The research was wanting to find its effects on dietary intake, body composition, and blood markers.

The research had two groups for the study, one group who had to wait 90-minutes to eat breakfast upon waking, and ate dinner 90-minutes earlier. The other group ate at their normal eating time. Both groups had no restriction on what they chose to eat as long as it fell in the time window.

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Researchers found that those who changed their mealtimes lost on average more than twice as much body fat as those in the control group, who ate their meals as normal. A post questionnaire was given to both groups. 57% of participants noted a reduction of food from either a reduced appetite, decreased eating opportunities, or a decrease in snacking. 57% of participants as well felt they could not follow the prescribed meal plans beyond 10 weeks; yet 43% would continue if the eating times were more flexible.

Read more about how “Changes in breakfast and dinner timings can reduce body fat” from ScienceDaily.

Exercise Mitigates DNA in Elderly

The researchers wanted to look at introducing physical activity after the age of 65 in those who have been physically inactive, and what affect it may have on their genetics disposition of becoming obese. The research looked into the family history of obesity and wanted to see if increasing physical activity can offset obesity based on genetic history. “The message here is that your genetic risk for obesity is not wholly deterministic,” Ochs-Balcom, PhD, adds. “The choices we make in our life play a large role in our health.”

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Researcher studied 8,206 women of European ancestry to look at the effects of physical activity. “Our work suggests that in older age, we can overcome our destiny for obesity — given to us by our parents — through exercise,” Ochs-Balcom said. “For the elderly, exercise is important for preventing muscle loss, which helps reduce the risk of falls,” says Ochs-Balcom. “Plus, there are many other benefits of exercise in older adults.”

Read more about how “Exercise mitigates genetic effects of obesity later in life” from ScienceDaily.

Physical Activity Lowers Heart Disease Risk

The study followed 1,800 British adults between the ages of 60 and 64. The study had the participants wear biometric trackers (heart rate monitors) and movement trackers (Fitbit) over the course of 5 days. The researchers studied the atherosclerosis markers of each participant, as they were more interested predictive cardiovascular events and death.

“The 60 to 64 age range represents an important transition between work and retirement, when lifestyle behaviors tend to change,” said Ahmed Elhakeem, Ph.D., study author and senior research associate in epidemiology at Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. “It may, therefore, be an opportunity to promote increased physical activity.

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“In addition, cardiovascular disease risk is higher in older adults. It’s important to understand how activity might influence risk in this age group,” Elhakeem said. “We found it’s important to replace time spent sedentary with any intensity level of activity.”

Adults should at least get 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity; and muscle-strengthening exercises two or more days a week. Every additional 10-minutes spent in moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity was associated with lower leptin numbers in both men and women. It is incredibly important to at least get to the minimum recommendations, but is more beneficial to add an additional 10 minutes. Go take those grand kids on a walk, play chase, run around the house, and just have fun.

Read more about how “Older adults who get physical can lower their heart disease risk” from ScienceDaily.

Benefits To Different Training Styles

Researcher Christoffer Clemmensen wanted to look into what hormones are effected from different styles of training. The research looked into the difference in response of hormones after Endurance training vs Strength Training. The research used 10 young men and had them split into two groups, one endurance, one strength training.

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The findings were that a hormone FGF21 was produced three times as much during Endurance training rather than strength training. FGF21 hormone has been associated with positive effects on metabolism.

“FGF21’s potential as a drug against diabetes, obesity and similar metabolic disorders is currently being tested, so the fact that we are able to increase the production ourselves through training is interesting”, Christoffer Clemmensen elaborates.

Read more about how “Cardio exercise and strength training affect hormones differently” from ScienceDaily.