Exercise may Protect against Future Emotional Stress

Exercise may Protect against Future Emotional Stress

Moderate exercise may help people cope with anxiety and stress for an extended period of time post-workout, according to a study by kinesiology researchers in the University of Maryland School of Public Health published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (see also University of Maryland). “While it is well-known that exercise improves mood, among other benefits, not as much is known about the potency of exercise’s impact on emotional state and whether these positive effects endure when we’re faced with everyday stressors once we leave the gym,” explains J. Carson Smith, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology. “We found that exercise helps to buffer the effects of emotional exposure. If you exercise, you’ll not only reduce your anxiety, but you’ll be better able to maintain that reduced anxiety when confronted with emotional events.” Smith, whose research explores how exercise and physical activity affect brain function, ageing and mental health, compared how moderate intensity cycling versus a period of quiet rest (both for 30 minutes) affected anxiety levels in a group of healthy college students. He assessed their anxiety state before the period of activity (or rest), shortly afterward (15 minutes after) and finally after exposing them to a variety of highly arousing pleasant and unpleasant photographs, as well as neutral images. At each point, study participants answered 20 questions from the State-Trait Anxiety inventory, which is designed to assess different symptoms of anxiety. All participants were put through both the exercise and the rest states (on different days) and tested for anxiety levels pre-exercise, post-exercise, and post-picture viewing. Smith found that exercise and quiet...
Resistance Training emerging as Particularly Valuable for Older Adults

Resistance Training emerging as Particularly Valuable for Older Adults

Four studies reported today at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference(R) 2012 (AAIC(R) 2012) describe the ability of targeted exercise training to promote improved mental functioning and reduced risk for cognitive impairment and dementia in cognitively healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The reports, from 6- and 12-month randomised controlled clinical trials, depict the beneficial effects of different types of exercise – resistance training, aerobic training, and balance-stretching training – on a variety of cognitive abilities, brain structure, functional neural plasticity, growth factors, and risk factors for cognitive decline such as depression and sleep quality. “Currently, the strongest data for lifestyle-based Alzheimer’s risk reduction is for physical activity, yet this data is generally observational and considered preliminary”, said William Thies, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association(R) Chief Medical and Scientific Officer. “These new intervention studies are taking place over longer periods of time to begin to clarify exactly which types of physical activity are most effective, how much needs to be done, and for how long. In particular, where previously we had seen positive associations between aerobic activity, particularly walking, and cognitive health, these latest studies show that resistance training is emerging as particularly valuable for older adults.” It is generally accepted that regular physical activity is essential to healthy ageing; it also may prove to be a strategy to delay or prevent the onset of cognitive impairment and dementia. “It is very important to learn more about factors that actually raise and lower risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. To do that, we need long-term studies in large, diverse populations, and we need the research funding to conduct...
Berries Delay Brain Ageing

Berries Delay Brain Ageing

An article published online on April 26, 2012 in the Annals of Neurology reports a protective effect for diets containing high amounts of blueberries and strawberries against cognitive decline in older women. Berries are high in compounds known as flavonoids, which may help reduce the negative impact of inflammation and stress on cognitive function. “As the U.S. population ages, understanding the health issues facing this group becomes increasingly important,” commented lead researcher Elizabeth Devore of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “Our study examined whether greater intake of berries could slow rates of cognitive decline.” Dr Devore and her associates evaluated data from women who were between the ages of 30 and 55 upon enrollment in the Nurses’ Health Study in 1976. Dietary questionnaires completed every four years since 1980 were analyzed for the frequency of berry intake as well as the intake of 31 individual flavonoids representing six major flavonoid subclasses commonly found in US diets. Cognitive function was tested every two years in 16,010 participants who were over the age of 70 between 1995 and 2001. Consuming a relatively high amount of blueberries or strawberries was associated with a slower decline in cognitive function test scores over the follow-up period compared to women whose intake was lower, resulting in a delay in cognitive aging of up to 2.5 years. Greater intake of the anthocyanidin class of flavonoids and total flavonoids was also associated with a reduced rate of decline. “Substantial biologic evidence supports our finding that berry and flavonoid intake may be related to cognition,” the authors write. “Berry-derived anthocyanidins are uniquely and specifically capable...
Nuts Contribute to Health of Brain And Body

Nuts Contribute to Health of Brain And Body

They’re among the earliest known foods. Archaeological evidence suggests that tree nuts were a major part of the human diet 780,000 years ago. Several varieties of nuts, along with the stone tools necessary to crack them open, have been found buried deep in bogs in the Middle East. Rich in energy and loaded with nutrients, nuts and, particularly, their cargo of omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have been essential to the evolution of the large, complex human brain. Researchers have long linked consumption of tree nuts, despite their significant fat content, to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer and even Parkinson’s disease. Now comes evidence that they also improve cognition in general and specific ways. Most have high concentrations of vitamin E, the B vitamins (including folate), antioxidants, minerals such as magnesium, as well as omega-3 fats, all of which support myriad functions of the nervous system. Test Best Crack open some walnuts and improve your ability to think critically. Researchers find that eating a high concentration of walnuts (half a cup a day) boosts inferential verbal reasoning, especially the ability to distinguish true from false. An array of compounds in walnuts, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin and varied antioxidative polyphenols, protect the central nervous system and speed synaptic transmission. The significant supply of alpha-linolenic acid is essential for stability of neuronal membranes, through which all neuronal actions transpire. Memory Tracks Although not strictly tree nuts — they are the seed of a fruit related to plums — almonds may help save your memory. Mice rendered temporarily amnesiac were more apt to remember their way around...