Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Regular Exercise Keeps Both Body and Mind Strong

Exercise is good for you.  Regular physical activity in adults helps maintain a healthy body weight, reduces symptoms of depression and staves off heart disease and Type II diabetes.  Ok, this is not really news to anyone, but according to the researchers at the University of California Irvine’s Department of Neurology, physical exercise during the golden years could also reduce the odds of dementia.

Dementia is the loss of brain function that affects memory, judgment, behavior, perception and the ability to understand language.  Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in the elderly, affecting one in eight in the United States.  Vascular dementia is another form caused by multiple small strokes.  Recording the amount and type of physical exercise in the neurology EMR charts of elderly patients could determine their risk for dementia or the progression of it. 

UC Irvine’s study examined the relationship between physical strength and performance and dementia in participants 90 years and older.  The tests consisted of a point system based on physical performance that included a 4 meter walk, 5 chair stands (standing up with arms crossed), balance while standing and grip strength; the average age of the 629 participants was 94.  The study found that those who scored lower in the performance tests (especially walking) were almost 30 times more likely to have dementia than those who scored well.  The Department of Neurology’s team suggested that further research be conducted to fully understand the why there is a correlation between poor physical performance and cognitive function, but concludes that there is indeed a relationship between the two and the neurodegenerative process may have a direct effect on one’s ability to perform basic physical activities.  

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