Posts tagged mental health
Resistance Training Improves Older Adults' Quality Of Life
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Inactive adults can expect up to a 5% loss of muscle mass each decade after age 30. This loss of muscle tissue, sarcopenia, occurs in part due to lack of exercise and is a major cause of disability and lost independence among aging adults. To combat this weakness experts recommend each American adult should participate in weekly Resistance Training sessions. According to our National Physical Activity Guidelines, the recommended amount of strength training involves exercising major muscle groups at least 2 times a week. Previous research has shown this frequency of strength training exercise can increase strength, muscle mass, and bone density among older adults.

A recent review of the available evidence was conducted by researchers investigating the relationship between strength training and quality of life in older adults (Hart et al. Health Promotion Perspective. 2019). Authors reviewed 16 research articles and found resistance training had a significant effect on both mental and physical health variables. They reported significant improvements in both health related quality of life and bodily pain among the trained participants compared to their sedentary peers. Specifically, resistance training was found to positively effect emotional and social functions within overall quality of life scores.

This article adds to the existing literature on the mental and emotional benefits of exercise. Contact the experts at MEND to learn which exercises are most appropriate for you.

Daily Activity Shown To Improve Brain Health In Aging Adults And Elderly Even Those With Brain Pathology
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The cognitive benefits of aerobic exercise are well established with trained individuals demonstrating decreased risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, and improvements of cognitive function and memory compared to their sedentary peers. More recent research has documented daily physical activity is also associated with decreased risk of dementia in aging adults even in those with pathology on brain imaging such as neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. Both of these brain pathologies are associated with dementia and alzheimer’s disease. Further previous research has shown moderate walking, 45 minutes/day for 3 days/week, actually increased brain volume among particpants. A recent study suggests even general activity such as light housework and gardening may be enough to improve brain health within this population.

Buchman and colleagues examined the impact of daily movement (gardening, housework, exercise) on cognitive and motor function, as well as, brain health (Neurology. 2019). Researchers performed a well designed trial of over 450 aging adults (> 70 y.o.) and monitored their mental and physical function, as well as, daily activity each year over a 20 year period. Of these adults, 191 demonstrated clinical signs of dementia during the study period. In addition, researchers studied the donated brains of these individuals after their deaths to determine the presence of brain abnormalities and pathology.

Consistent with prior research, more active participants demonstrates higher scores on cognitive, memory, and physical tests. Interestingly, these results held up even among individuals with brain pathologies including neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques. Although all of these individuals could have been diagnosed with neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, 30% tested normally on cognitive function tests at the time of their deaths. Authors suggested exercise and activity may have a protective effect on brain health (symptoms) even in the presence of brain changes (signs of dementia). Authors recommend more research in this area to determine if there is a cause and effect relationship between these two factors.

Brief Bouts of Exercise Shown to Improve Mental Health
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Naysayers say the effects of exercise do not last, but neither does bathing which is why experts recommend doing it everyday.  We know the effects of exercise are robust and powerful and if they could be placed in a pill the medication would be the most prescribed drug of all time.  Active individuals have significantly less risk of developing anxiety or depression compared to their sedentary peers.  In turn, the effects of aerobic exercise either match or beat the effects of medications for common mental health diagnoses. New research highlights the effects of even short bouts of aerobic exercise on our mental and emotional health.

A recent review of the evidence was performed to identify the relationship between physical activity and happiness (Zhang, Z et al. J Happiness Studeies. 2018).  Authors utilized a total of 23 studies involving wide ranges of geographic areas and populations.  They reported even minimal exercise doses of 1 workout per week or as little as 10 minutes of exercise were associated with improvements in happiness.  In addition to aerobic exercise, balance and stretching exercises were also associated with improvements in happiness.  Future studies are needed to improve our confidence in a causal vs. correlational relationship between physical activity and happiness. 

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