Aerobics May Improve Memory

Aerobics May Improve MemoryAerobics May Improve Memory.
I became interested in exercise and memory several years ago when my older students began to tell me that their memories seemed to improve after they took my class.
I was teaching mostly dance-exercise in those days. I started with simple steps and built up to a pretty complex routine.
There has to be a connection I thought, between the physical movement, making your brain learn this routine, and improved memory.
I’m no scientist but I was curious. So I started to break it down.
What I was having people do is learn short phrases of movement and then link them together. The cardio dance routine required them to move forward and back, side to side, remember specific steps; and stay in rhythm.
This was a real challenge for many of my students who had never done anything like this before. As they got more proficient, the class became a social gathering; because of this shared experience.
My students felt energized afterwards, not exhausted. They told me that besides getting a good body workout they were getting a memory workout as well. They said they could actually remember things better.
I wondered if there was science to support our anecdotal experience.
I contacted a couple of local Alzheimer’s specialists (there was no internet back then) and they told me – you’re probably right but there weren’t any specific studies on this more than 20 years ago.
Even now the research is not conclusive. But, technology in the last 15 years has allowed science to discover a lot more about the brain.
Vascular memory loss has been linked to heart disease and cardio fitness is a major factor in preventing and managing that issue. Aerobic exercise increases the amount of oxygen supplied to the brain improving mental function. Cardio fitness has been shown to reduce loss of brain cells in older adults.
A study of 1,449 older adults shows those who in middle age exercised vigorously enough to perspire and breathe hard for 20 to 30 minutes at least twice a week reduced their risk of later developing Alzheimer’s disease by about 60 percent.*
But cardio is just part of the equation.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that certain types of dance, particularly with routines to learn and remember, may help prevent age-onset memory loss and diseases like Alzheimer’s. “…. cognitive activity may stave off dementia by increasing a person’s “cognitive reserve.” **
And a study conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, says activities that combined mental and social as well as physical stimulation offered the greatest protection against dementia***
Activity is the active word. Be physically active, mentally active and socially active, preferably all at once. Taking a Cardio Dance class or getting together with friends to do a Cardio Dance DVD is a good place to start. And to this day, when I start my cardio dance class I say,
“It’s time to workout our hearts and minds!”

*Rovio, Suvi; Kareholt, Ingemar; Helkala, Eeva-Liisa; Viitanen, Matti; Winblad, Bengt; Tuomilehto, Jaakko; Soininen, Hilkka; Nissinen, Aulikki; and Kivipelto, Miia. “Leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.” The Lancet Neurology; published online Oct. 4, 2005.
** Dr Joe Verghese, lead author of study conducted at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, N Engl J Med, 2003; 348:2508-2516.
***Karp, Anita; Paillard-Borg, Stephanie; Wang, Hui-Xin; Silverstein, Merrill; Winblad, Bengt; and Fratiglioni, Laura. “Mental, Physical and Social Components in Common Leisure Activities in Old Age in Relation to Dementia: Findings from the Kungsholmen Project.” Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association 9th International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders, Philadelphia, Penn., July 17 – 22, 2004. Abstract published in Neurobiology of Aging, July 2004, Vol. 25, S2: p. S313.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3761497/

Compared with the control group, the exercise group significantly improved in verbal fluency (p = 0.048), word list delayed recall (p = 0.038), word list recognition (p = 0.007), and total CERAD-K score (p = 0.037)

  • Metabolic syndrome (MS) is associated with an increased risk of cognitive impairment.
  • Aerobic exercise improves cognitive function in elderly people and contributes to the prevention of degenerative neurological disease and brain damage. Dance sport is a form of aerobic exercise that has the additional benefits of stimulating the emotions, promoting social interaction, and exposing subjects to acoustic stimulation and music.
  • In the present study, dance exercise for a 6-month period improved cognitive function in older adults with MS. In particular, positive effects were observed in verbal fluency, word list delayed recall, word list recognition, and the total CERAD-K score.
  • Our data suggest that the implementation of dance exercise programs may be an effective means of prevention and treatment of cognitive disorders.
  • http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnagi.2013.00075/abstract

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Drinking Enough Water While Active Outdoors

drinking enough water

Drinking enough water should have been the first thing on my mind because I was shooting an exercise video on the beach in 90-degree heat. I got on a roll and forgot about the time. Less than an hour in I started to swoon. Not a good shot on a fitness video.  I realized immediately what had happened; I got so involved I forgot to drink water between takes. Dehydration causes so many summer exercise accidents because it creeps up on you just like it did me. So here’s my take on drinking enough water to keep yourself water safe in summer.

Drinking Enough Water

Our bodies are about 60 % water, and that water plays a role in just about every bodily function. We could go a month without food but we can only live a few days without water.

If you exercise outdoors, you may notice that as the weather gets hotter you have trouble keeping up your usual pace.  Actually your body is telling you to slow down and you need to listen!  Water helps to deliver oxygen to your muscles and prevents your cardiovascular system from becoming over-taxed.

It takes about 2 weeks to get used to exercising briskly in warmer weather. You need to acclimate slowly to higher temperatures. Here are a few pointers to help you do that.

When you exercise in the heat you can lose up to five cups of water per hour. So it’s important to drink water before, during, and after vigorous exercise. The rule of thumb is to drink 2 cups of water a couple of hours before you start exercising so you are fully hydrated. Then a cup of water every 15 minutes or so while you are exercising. Don’t wait till you’re thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Remember to bring that water bottle with you!

But you’re not done yet. You need to drink another 2 cups over a two-hour period after exercise.

Sounds like a lot of water. It’s not. It’s just making up for the water you lose when you exercise in the heat.

Give yourself a break. Try exercising if you can when it’s cooler, early mornings or late afternoons when the sun is less direct. Try finding shady areas.

Instead of keeping up your brisk pace for the whole workout, break it up.  Go at normal pace for a bit, do a short light interval and then pick up your speed again.

Wear light colored, comfortable fitting clothes. Avoid tightly woven fabrics that don’t breathe. And don’t forget the sports sunscreen.

 

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GETTING IN SHAPE ONCE AND FOR ALL by MIRABAI HOLLAND MFA © 2011

At this time of year when New Year Resolutions are just around the corner, I’d like to offer some suggestions on how to get into shape and stay there once and for all. Many of today’s fitness programs are all about the quick sell and even quicker results. Many are based on dangerous fitness myths. Here are 5 fitness myths to steer away from:

Myth #1: Pain Equals Gain It is a popular misconception that only when you feel the pain are you gaining anything from your workout. “The “no pain, no gain” mentality contributes to more injuries and more burnout than any other fitness factor, especially among my age group (baby boomers). It is wiser to exercise sustainably over a longer term, than to push yourself to the breaking point.

Myth #2: A Taskmaster Equals the Best Teacher Reality Exercise Shows that have recently become popular portray drill-sergeant-style trainers as being the most effective fitness mentors. While leveraging fear and using intimidation techniques may mean instant short-term fitness results, they’re sending the wrong message about how to get and stay fit for a lifetime. Attainable short-term goals and positive reinforcement are more likely to create good fitness habits that are sustainable for life.

Myth #3: Pumping up the Volume Equals Pumping up Your Physique It seems some fitness instructors think screaming louder and blasting the bass is motivational. It’s time to think again. While high-decibel workouts might be temporarily motivational, over time these techniques become draining and stressful leading to faster fitness burnout. Look instead for uplifting music and gentle coaching in your workouts.

Myth #4:
Fitness Equals a Fight Against Your Body Sales pitches that encourage “shaving off the pounds” and busting your abs or your butt have solidified the image of fitness as a battle against your body. Fighting is not a sustainable activity or philosophy. Instead, think of partnering with your body. Meet it where it is at right now and provide the environment and tools to reveal your body’s best potential. When you take this approach you are setting yourself up for success every step of the way.

Myth #5: Force Equals Fit Today’s popular exercise routines promote pounding your body into shape. But ancient fitness modalities, such as Yoga and Tai Chi had it right. Fitness is not about pumping the most iron or performing the most reps, it is about teaching your body how to move efficiently, using all of your muscles groups, and sustaining these movements over time. Exercise including strength training should be approached as a gradual lifetime process. This way, exercise becomes a pleasure not a chore.

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