One of the biggest fears for baby boomers is the alarming increase in Alzheimer’s disease. For those hoping to avoid it, as well as dementia and Parkinson’s, activity appears to be critical, though definitive scientific proof has yet to be shown. A couple of studies cited in the New York Times (7/27/11) in an article written by Gretchen Reynolds, look at the more mundane, creeping memory loss which begins in our 30’s and 40’s, as Ms. Reynolds pus it “When car keys and people’s names evaporate? Can activity help with this type of age-related decline in memory?”

Early returns look promising. Canadian researchers measured energy expenditure and cognitive functioning of a large group of elderly adults over he course of two to five years. Most did not exercise per se, and almost none worked out vigorously. Their activities were mainly walking, gardening, cleaning, etc. The effects of this light activity, when compared to the wholly sedentary volunteers was quite remarkable. About 90 percent of those with the greatest daily activity could think and remember just about as well, year after year. The study was published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine. 

Another study published in the same journal shared the same take home message. In it, women, most in their 70’s, with vascular disease or multiple risk factors for developing that condition completed cognition tests and surveys of their activities over a period of five years. They were not athletes-the most active walked. The ability to think and remember still did diminish, but not as much as the sedentary group. Dr. Eric Larson, vice president of research at Group Health REsearch Institute in Seattle, says, “If we can push the onset of dementia by 5, 10, or more years, we cn change the dynamics of aging. No one wants to lose their mind, ” he says. So the growing body of evidence linking activity and improved mental functioning should be a “Wake-up call. We need to find ways to get everybody moving.”

That’s what I’m trying to do……..

Speaking of moving, the results of a large population-based study found that metabolic syndrome was associated with an increased risk of developing liver cancer.

The data were initially presented in April at the American Association for Cancer REsearch (AACR) annual meeting, and also appear in the August issue of Hepatology.

“Given the high and increasing rates of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the United States, this is a very important and timely study,” says Lewis Roberts, PhD.

Metabolic syndrome is a precursor to diabetes, and is a direct result of lifestyle factors-namely, too much food, especially refined and processed foods), and too little activity. ¬†Folk’s, this is something only YOU can control. Your actions play a HUGE part in how you live the rest of your life…….

Investigators have identified new evidence from the Northern Manhattan Study connecting low vitamin D levels to atherosclerosis, or plaque build-up in the arteries, a precursor to stroke and heart disease. The work will be published in the August issue of Stroke but was released early online.

There is still no definitive daily amount of vitamin D agreed upon by health experts, but most I’ve talked to recommend anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 IU’s per day.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.