New Research Demonstrates Connection Between Physical Activity and Healthier Aging

Studies in Archives of Internal Medicine examine associations between exercise and cognitive function, bone density, and overall health.

Senior exercise classExercise has previously been linked to beneficial effects on arthritis, falls and fractures, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. All of these conditions threaten older adults’ ability to function independently and handle tasks of daily living.

“Regular physical activity has been associated with greater longevity, as well as with reduced risk of physical disability and dependence, the most important health outcome for most older people,” said Jeff Williamson, M.D., M.H.S., and Marco Pahor, M.D., of University of Florida. “Now, four new studies move the scientific enterprise in this area further along the path toward the goal of understanding the full range of important aging-related outcomes for which exercise has a clinically relevant impact.”

Read more at the Right at Home website.

TIME: What does a clean house have to do with health?

If you have a clean house, chances are, you’ve also got a fit body, according to new research by physical activity expert NiCole Keith at Indiana University.

Keith’s team looked at the relationship between physical activity levels in urban African American adults and a range of factors in their residential environments — including the condition of streets, sidewalks, traffic noise and air quality outside. But these factors, which past studies have shown influence how much people get out and walk for exercise or recreation, had no bearing on behavior in the current study participants.

Rather, it was the neatness inside their homes that made the difference — the better-kept the home, the more exercise residents got. “At the end of the day, the interior condition of their house seemed to be the only thing affecting their physical activity,” said Keith, an associate professor of physical education at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, in a statement. “It was not at all what we expected.”


Alzheimer’s research: Aerobic exercise can protect brain, improve mental agility

There is no proven way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but a new Seattle-area study provides some of the strongest evidence yet that regular exercise can protect the brain — and even improve cognitive performance — in older adults showing signs of mental decline.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System tested the effects of aerobic training in a clinical trial with 33 women and men diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, often a prelude to Alzheimer’s disease.

Twenty-three of the volunteers, selected randomly, began an intense program of aerobic exercise, spending 45 to 60 minutes on a treadmill or stationary bike four days a week. The remaining 10, the study’s control group, spent the same amount of time performing non-aerobic stretching and balance exercises.


NEWS: Exercise regularly, age better: studies

WASHINGTON — Taking regular exercise helps you to stay physically healthier and mentally sharper into old age, four studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed Monday.

One of the studies found that women who exercised more during middle age — defined as an average age of 60 by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School — were less likely after 70 to develop chronic diseases, heart surgery or any physical, cognitive or mental impairments.

Another study found that a year of resistance training, once or twice a week, improved older women’s attention spans and conflict resolution skills.

A third found that adults aged 55 and older who engaged in moderate or high physical activity were less likely to become cognitively impaired than their couch-potato equivalents.

Read more here.