Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Hit the weights: Better muscle strength encourages better cognitive abilities, studies find

RECOMMENDED READING


Be strong, think strong. That's the takeaway from recent studies on the connection between moderate exercise at any age and improved mental acuity.

One of the latest studies comes from the University of Eastern Finland.

The Finnish study confirmed that better muscle strength encourages better cognitive abilities for people 50 and older.

The study focused on not just exercise but on muscle strengthening as beneficial to good brain function, especially muscle strength in the upper and lower body.

Similar studies have found that there is a correlation between hand grip strength and better brain function, according to Dr. Ross Andel, a professor at the School of Aging Studies at the University of South Florida.

"There's a good amount of evidence that grip strength is tied to cognitive behavior quite closely," Andel said, citing more than a half-dozen studies that look at upper body strength and brain function.

This psychomotor connection to the speed of the brain's processing of information is seen as part of an overall healthy body function.

"If I have higher muscle strength, I have higher cognitive function," said Dr. Todd Manini, an associate professor at the University of Florida's Institute on Aging.

Developing higher muscle strength "is progressive," he said. "You have to challenge yourself a little bit (and) make your muscles adapt."

When we do strengthening exercises like pushups, or lift weights or do leg squats with weights, the body produces a neurotrophin "that promotes brain health," Andel said.

While such exercises as walking, jogging and swimming are good, strength training brings greater potential benefits, he said.

Age-related muscle loss typically begins at age 30, Andel said, and the loss continues at about 1 percent a year. Therefore, by age 80, if a person hasn't done much in the way of strength training, the muscle loss could be 50 percent since age 30.

Such dramatic muscle loss is not irreversible, however.

"If a person is alive, it doesn't matter how old they are, they can counter it," Andel said. "It doesn't matter at what age people start. Returns may diminish somewhat, but ... the payoff is great at any age."

Andel recommends a person start "very moderately," using smaller weights and building up. If you can't do 15 repetitions with a certain weight, then step down to a lower weight, he suggested.

"Go easy and listen to your body," he said. "We all develop a little bit of soreness" when we exercise, he added. "Strength training is breaking down muscle cells and then rebuilding. It's a process."

Any sort of strength training will involve hand grip strengthening as well, Andel added, which is an extra benefit.

Working with weights doesn't have to be done at home, either. In fact, there are social benefits to using a gym, according to Heikki Pentikainen, the Finnish study's lead researcher.

"When strength training is performed in a gym," Pentikainen said, "it is easy to engage in conversation with others. Social interaction is also known to be beneficial to cognitive functions."

For the University of Florida's Manini, the slow-and-safe approach to muscle-strengthening exercises is best, especially for older people.

"Like anything else you do for the first time ... it's important they do these in a safe environment. Hold onto something for balance," he suggested. A side rail. A couch. Just in case.

A chat with your doctor before beginning an exercise program is always a good idea, Manini added. "Exercise is generally safe," he said. "People can be as active as they physically can."

Obviously, diseases such as arthritis can hinder an exercise program. "The idea is to be as active as their health will allow," he said.

Contact Fred W. Wright Jr. at travelword@aol.com.

 
Comments

Motorcyclist, 27, dies in crash with taxi cab in Largo

LARGO — A motorcyclist died after crashing into a taxi cab Thursday morning, police reported.Sydney Pender, 27, was riding a 2012 Yamaha motorcycle southbound on 66th Street about 10:30, according to a Largo Police Department release.At the same time...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Update: Mother, toddler hit by car in critical condition at TGH

TAMPA — A mother and one of her two small children who were hit by a car while trying to cross Dale Mabry Highway on Wednesday were still in the hospital on Thanksgiving, according to Tampa General Hospital.Cassandra Marie Spicola, 29, and 18-month-o...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Pasco County put under immediate tornado warning

The National Weather Service has put out a tornado warning for Pasco County. Thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado and strong winds are expected over Jasmine Estates, New Port Richey and Hudson until 1:15 p.m., according to the NWS warning. Ba...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

Thanksgiving forecast: Rain today, but sunny skies this weekend

It’s going to be a wet Thanksgiving across Tampa Bay, but sunny skies are coming during the long weekend, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Ric Kearbey. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

Self-proclaimed Nazi banned from University of North Florida — but allowed to remain a student

A self-proclaimed Nazi is banned from the University of North Florida’s campus — but will remain a student, university officials said.Ken Parker, a 37-year-old Navy veteran who once served as the grand dragon, or highest-ranking leader, of the Ku Klu...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

Days after a high fever, Jon Mott wins his fifth Times Turkey Trot 10K

CLEARWATER — On Tuesday, Jon Mott had a 103-degree fever. That was not enough to keep him from maintaining his dominance Thursday at the 39th Tampa Bay Times Turkey Trot.The former Northeast standout added to his record with his fifth title in the ev...
Updated: 6 hours ago
President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

President Trump presents his report card, passes with flying colors

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump has a Thanksgiving Day message for the nation: Look at all I’ve done. Trump is telling followers in an early-morning holiday tweet that, "your Country is starting to do really well." He says: Jobs are "coming back,...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Lutz pedestrian dies in accident on U.S. 41

LUTZ — A man is dead after deputies said he walked into the path of a car on U.S. Route 41 Wednesday night.Charles Miller, 69 of Lutz, was walking east across the highway at 7:34 p.m., according to Florida Highway Patrol.Daniel Johnson, 35 and also o...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Tarpon Springs seeking to honor sponger George Billiris

Tarpon Springs seeking to honor sponger George Billiris

TARPON SPRINGS — The city is considering a way to honor the legacy of the late longtime sponge merchant George Billiris at a city building. "We know how he promoted Tarpon Springs," Commissioner David Banther said at a recent City Commission meeting....
Published: 11/23/17
New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

New Weeki Wachee basketball coach transitions from years on college sidelines

WEEKI WACHEE — Mark Lee was looking for an accomplished coach to take over Weeki Wachee High’s boys basketball team. Not only did he find what he was searching for, but he may have gone above and beyond with the hiring of Rick Scruggs.The 30-year vet...
Published: 11/23/17