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exercise

Exercise Can Help Older Adults Retain Memories

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We all know exercise is good for us, but that still leaves plenty of questions. How much exercise? Who benefits the most? And when in our lives?

New research led by University of Pittsburgh psychologists pools data from dozens of studies to answer these questions, showing that older adults may be able to prevent declines in a certain kind of memory by sticking to regular exercise.

“Everyone always asks, ‘How much should I be exercising? What’s the bare minimum to see improvement?’ ” said lead author Sarah Aghjayan, a Clinical and Biological Health Psychology PhD student in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “From our study, it seems like exercising about three times a week for at least four months is how much you need to reap the benefits in episodic memory.”

Episodic memory is the kind that deals with events that happened to you in the past. It’s also one of the first to decline with age. “I usually like to talk about the first time you got behind the wheel of a car,” said Aghjayan. “So you might remember where you were, how old you were, who was in the passenger seat explaining things to you, that feeling of excitement.”

Exercise that gets the heart pumping has shown promise in increasing brain health, and experiments in mice show that it improves memory—but studies looking at the same link in humans have come out mixed.

Seeking clarity in the muddy waters of the scientific literature, the team pored over 1,279 studies, eventually narrowing them down to just 36 that met specific criteria. Then they used specialized software and no small number of Excel spreadsheets to transform the data info a form where the different studies could be directly compared.

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Lifting Weights for Just Three Seconds a Day Helps Our Muscles Grow, According to Scientists

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People who say they don’t have time to exercise might have to rethink after scientists proved just three seconds a day lifting weights was enough to strengthen muscle.A new study by researchers in Australia and Japan found doing just one downward bicep curl a day using a heavy weight increases muscle strength by more than 11 percent.

Whole body workouts could be over in just 30 seconds if the findings hold up in other muscle groups, the scientists added.

For the study, 39 healthy university students were told to complete one muscle contraction a day ‘at maximum effort’ for just three seconds, five days a week for four weeks.

The students were split into groups who did three different types of bicep curl.

One group used their biceps to lower a weight down towards the floor, which fitness experts call an eccentric bicep curl.

Other participants lifted the weight up, called a concentric curl, or held it parallel to the ground, called an isometric contraction.

Another group of 13 students did no exercise at all.

Students who did the downward bicep curl saw their muscle strength grow by 11.5 per cent.

Participants who performed other types of curl also grew stronger, although their increase in muscle strength was smaller than for those who did a downward bicep curl.

The group of volunteers who did no exercise at all did not see any increase in their muscle strength.

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Get Your Body Moving to Put the Brakes on Early Parkinson’s, Study Says

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A new study suggests that people with early-stage Parkinson’s disease who regularly got one to two hours of moderate exercise twice a week, like walking or gardening, may have less trouble balancing, walking, and doing daily activities later.

Researchers found that those who exercised regularly over five years did better on cognitive tests and had slower progression of the disease in several aspects.

“Our results are exciting, because they suggest it may never be too late for someone with Parkinson’s to start an exercise program to improve the course of their disease,” said study author Kazuto Tsukita, MD, of Kyoto University in Japan and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “That’s because we found that to slow progression of the disease, it was more important for people with Parkinson’s to maintain an exercise program than it was to be active at the beginning of the disease.”

The study looked at 237 people with early-stage Parkinson’s. They had an average age of 63 and were followed by researchers for up to six years.

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Exercise Alters Brain Chemistry to Protect Aging Synapses, Study Finds

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When elderly people stay active, their brains have more of a class of proteins that enhances the connections between neurons to maintain healthy cognition, a UC San Francisco study has found.

This protective impact was found even in people whose brains at autopsy were riddled with toxic proteins associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“Our work is the first that uses human data to show that synaptic protein regulation is related to physical activity and may drive the beneficial cognitive outcomes we see,” said Kaitlin Casaletto, PhD, an assistant professor of neurology and lead author on the study.

The beneficial effects of physical activity on cognition have been shown in mice but have been much harder to demonstrate in people.

Casaletto, a neuropsychologist and member of the Weill Institute for Neurosciences, worked with William Honer, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and senior author of the study, to leverage data from the Memory and Aging Project at Rush University in Chicago. That project tracked the late-life physical activity of elderly participants, who also agreed to donate their brains when they died.

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