Monday, January 19, 2009

Keep Fit, Stay Sharp

Found an interesting read on the site.

This one hits rather close to home, as it was just 18 months ago that I had the hard, but necessary duty of helping my Dad place my Grandmother into a nursing facility, as she had recently been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia.

The formerly feisty old gal had been suffering with long undiagnosed symptoms and sadly it took a fall in her apartment for her to get the help and treatment she needed. I am happy to note however that she is now doing wonderfully, enjoying her new surroundings and friends, and even though she may not be 100% the lady she used to be, there is still some fire in her eyes.

Being fit and active is not just for the young. Its had long lasting benefits well into the Golden Years.

Being physically fit helps older women stay on top of their mental game, an Alberta study suggests.

In an upcoming issue of the journal Neurobiology of Aging, Marc Poulin of the faculties of medicine and kinesiology at the University of Calgary and his colleagues said they found a clear relationship between physical fitness and cognitive function in 42 healthy women with an average age of 65.

Compared to the sedentary group, those who participated in regular aerobic activity:

* Had resting blood pressure that was 10 per cent lower.
* Showed five per cent better blood flow in their brains when exercising.
* Scored 10 per cent higher on cognitive skill tests, such as memory, speed of thinking and ability to multi-task.

"Being sedentary is now considered a risk factor for stroke and dementia," said
principal investigator Marc Poulin, a physiologist at the University of Calgary.

"This study proves for the first time that people who are fit have better blood flow to their brain. Our findings also show that better blood flow translates into improved cognition."

The implications are "huge" given the aging population of baby boomers, and the number of age-related diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer's, stroke and dementia, Poulin said, "Our results point to a simple intervention — exercise — to delay the onset of age-related brain afflictions."

Keep reading: Why keeping physically fit helps women stay sharp

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