New evidence has found a direct correlation with the importance of physical daily activity and maintaining or even potentially improving cognitive functions throughout life. Hayley Guiney and Liana Machado, researchers from the University of Otago, New Zealand, found that increase in physical activity can improve memory and or mental disabilities in older adults. Adults that were more physically active scored higher on mental tests than their peers that were not as physically active. Research has proved that a variety of cognitive functions such as selective attention, task switching and memory all seem to benefit from aerobic exercise. The body is now not the only thing that can benefit from daily physical activity. More here
An analysis of data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Health and Retirement Study conducted by Jennifer Ailshire, PhD, of the University of Southern California is the first to look at how air quality affects the cognitive function of older men and women. The research focused on data from 14,793 people over the age of 50 and found those living in areas with higher levels of air pollution scored poorer on cognitive function tests even after factoring in age, race, education, smoking, behavior, and cardiovascular condition. According to Ailshire, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of unhealthy air and there is emerging evidence that exposure may have adverse effects on the brain, as well as heart and respiratory health. More here.
Surprisingly, research has shown that poor health isn’t a reliable indicator of a person’s level of happiness. And now, a new study from George Mason University adds to the evidence that even people with life-threatening diseases often report being as happy as people in good health. The study, which surveyed 383 older adults, found that other than individuals who suffer from chronic conditions that interrupt their daily lives, people generally adapt to their health problems, regardless of the severity. Research Erik Angner, PhD, says his is the first study to measure the amount of disruption associated with different health conditions. More here.
A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive found that 75 percent of Americans described their retirement preparations as being based on some sort of a guess compared to 22 percent who said their plan was based on calculations. The numbers offer further evidence that Americans are in need of better education and financial preparation leading up to their retirement. For example, participants estimated their out-of-pocket healthcare costs in retirement would total $47,000, far below the $260,000 calculated by the Center for Retirement Research. Also, the number of respondents who said they aren’t confident they will have saved enough to live comfortably in retirement rose from 42 percent in 2011 to 53 percent this year. The poll was conducted via telephone and interviewed 1,000 middle-class Americans between the ages of 25 and 75. More here.
A new study from King’s College London has discovered four existing medications, used to treat conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, that may help slow the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The study’s lead author, Professor Clive Ballard, said developing new drugs to treat dementia is incredibly important but also very expensive. Locating medications that already exist and have shown the potential to benefit dementia patients means quicker results and cheaper treatments. Among the drugs found to have possible benefits, calcium channel blockers have shown strong evidence that they reduce the risk of developing dementia. The authors caution, however, that more study is needed to better understand how these medications may benefit patients with dementia. More here.
Professor Desmond O’Neill, consultant physician in geriatric and stroke medicine at Trinity College Dublin, says older drivers have an enviable crash record and the idea that they pose a disproportionate risk to other drivers is misguided. O’Neill claims that evidence showing elderly drivers involved in more fatal crashes is actually due to age-related fragility and not a higher risk of automobile accidents. He also cites a Danish study which found that cognitive screening of older drivers didn’t reduce the rate of seniors dying in car accidents but it did raise the rate of older adults being killed while walking or riding a bike. O’Neill suggests focusing on restricted licensing and rehabilitation for people with an age-related illness as more effective ways of keeping seniors safe on the road. More here.
It’s been said that honesty is the best policy and, according to a new study, it may also be best for your health. New research, presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention, suggests that telling lies may have a negative effect on health outcomes. The study included a sample of 110 people, among whom nearly half were asked to stop telling major or minor lies for 10 weeks. Anita E. Kelly, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Notre Dame and lead author of the study, said evidence indicates that the average American lies 11 times per week. According to Kelly, participants who purposefully reduced their everyday lies saw their health significantly improve. Over the 10 week study, when participants told fewer lies they were also found to have fewer mental and physical health complaints, such as feeling tense or melancholy or having headaches or sore throats. More here.
Flavanols are a compound found in cocoa that may help reduce blood pressure, according to new research. The study, which reviewed the results of short-term trials in which participants were given cocoa powder or dark chocolate daily for up to 18 weeks, found a slight reduction in blood pressure among the group consuming chocolate as compared to a control group. The researchers theorize that, because nitric oxide causes blood-vessel walls to relax and flavanols are responsible for the formation of nitric oxide, foods that are rich in flavanols could have a positive effect on blood pressure. Karin Ried, lead researcher, said the evidence indicates that, over the short term, chocolate may complement other treatments and contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because flavanol concentration varies depending on production and processing procedures, however, researchers are unable to determine the optimal amount of chocolate needed to produce an effect. More here.
According to an analysis of previously conducted research, limiting the amount of time you spend sitting to less than three hours a day may boost life expectancy by as much as two years. The research, published in the journal BMJ Open, also says cutting TV time to less than two hours a day could extend life by nearly a year and a half. The authors of the study write that adults spend an average of 55 percent of their day sedentary and a significant shift in behavior is necessary to make demonstrable improvements to life expectancy. The analysis used data collected for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey as well as previously published studies on the effects of sedentary lifestyles. Though the authors stress that their research only assumes a casual relationship between sitting and life expectancy, it adds to growing evidence that too much time sitting can increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early death. More here and here.
A new survey from faculty at UC Davis and the University of Southern California found that patients don’t consult Internet health advice and information because of a lack of trust in their doctors. The study polled 500 adults and found no evidence that people who used online health forums and websites had less trust in their doctors than patients who didn’t consult the Internet. Xinyi Hu, co-author of the study, said many people go online when they anticipate a challenge in their life and it makes sense they’d do the same for health issues. Among the highlights of the study, 70 percent of participants said they planned to ask their doctor questions about the information they found online and 40 percent printed information to take with them to the doctor’s office. The survey also found that patients didn’t substitute Internet sources for more traditional sources of information such as family and friends. Instead, the Internet was used as a supplement. More here.