Black Friday special. Buy one get one 50% off on all Optimum Nutrition. Online only. Expires 11/30/14 at 11:59 EST.
plus get free shipping on orders over $25. Order by 6 p.m. ET Ships same day. Learn more.
Reorder products. See your order history.
FREE SHIPPING on orders of $25 or more.

How to get FREE Shipping:
1. Place your online order of $25 or more*
2. Ship to an address within the United States (including U.S. territories)
3. Your shipment should arrive within 2-6 business days from your order

* Your total purchase must reach the designated amount after any discounts are applied and prior to the costs of shipping and tax.
Order by 6, We'll Ship the Same Day

Domestic orders placed Monday - Friday by 6 p.m. Eastern Time will be packed and shipped the same day, pending verification of billing information and the shipping method selected. International orders and orders containing gift cards, out-of-stock items or refrigerated items will be processed as quickly as possible, but won't necessarily be shipped out the same day.

Excludes all orders placed on major US holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day).

 

Health Guides
Health Concerns
Vitamin Guide
Herbal Remedies
Homeopathy
Weight Control
Sports & Fitness
Women's Health
Men's Health
Safety Checker
Food Guide
Newswire
Personal Health Tools
 Print this article
 

Exercise Gives the Brain a Boost

Exercise Gives the Brain a Boost: Main Image
We all need to exercise regularly for optimum health, but physical activity may be particularly beneficial for the aging female brain
In the United States, the population of people 65 and older has increased by about 16% since 1990, while the "oldest old," those 85 and up, has increased by an incredible 42%. About 10% of people 65 and older are affected by Alzheimer's disease and up to half of those 85 and up have the disease.

The intersection of these trends means that many millions of people will struggle with thinking (cognitive) decline in the coming years. Anything that can be done to lessen this burden of disease is welcome news. It turns out exercise may be just the ticket.

Women benefit greatly

To study the effects of exercise on cognitive function, researchers randomly selected 33 senior men and women (average age 70) to complete a six-month exercise program. Study subjects participated in four supervised weekly sessions of either high-intensity aerobic activity or a stretching program.

Blood samples were collected and analyzed for various markers of health, such as insulin, the "stress hormone" cortisol, and blood sugar (glucose) levels. Aspects of cognitive and higher brain ("executive") function, such as memory, verbal fluency, and the ability to learn a list were measured.

After six months, the researchers found that:

  • Men and women in the aerobic exercise group had similar gains in cardiovascular and respiratory (cardiorespiratory) fitness and body fat reduction.
  • Women in the aerobic exercise group improved performance on multiple tests of executive function, improved their body's ability to manage glucose, and reduced blood levels of insulin, cortisol, and another measure of decline in cognitive function (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
  • Men in the aerobic exercise group did not show improvement in most blood markers or on all but one of the tests of cognitive function.

The researchers noted that the aerobic exercise benefits were greatest for women in the preclinical stages of Alzheimer's disease, when cognitive impairment is mild.

Putting it into practice

We all need to exercise regularly for optimum health, but physical activity may be particularly beneficial for the aging female brain. To stay sharp, keep the following points in mind:

  • Participants in this study exercised at 75% to 85% of heart rate reserve for 45 to 60 minutes, four times per week.
  • Heart rate reserve is the difference between your maximum heart rate and your resting heart rate.
  • To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Your resting heart rate is your pulse (heart beats per minute), taken when you are at rest.
  • To get 75% to 85% of your heart rate reserve, multiple your heart rate reserve by 0.75 and by 0.85. The resulting two numbers give you a range for how many beats per minute your heart should be beating during exercise.
  • If math is not your thing, ask your doctor to help you figure out an appropriate exercise level for you. You can ask about this when you are checking in with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to begin an exercise program.

(Arch Neurol 2010; 67:71-9; The 65 Years and Over Population. Available at: www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/c2kbr01-10.pdf)

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.
 
sign up. save 10%

invalid email address entered. please try again.

 
almost there! click sign me up for exclusive coupons, great deals, early access to sales and info on how to stay healthy & fit.  view our privacy policy.
*first time customers only