Exercise Reduces Age-Related Movement Problems in the Elderly

By , Category : General Health

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How much exercise did you get this week?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults should incorporate both aerobics and muscle-strengthening exercises into their workout regimes each week—specifically two-and-a-half hours of moderately intense physical activity (i.e. fast walking) in addition to weight training for at least two days a week (working all major muscle groups).

For even better health benefits, older adults should do a similar mix of aerobic activity and strength training; for example, five hours each week of aerobic activity with strength training on two or more days a week.

Not only can exercise and weight training significantly influence your overall health and well-being, but in a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers discovered that seniors who are physically active tend to have fewer movement problems caused by white matter hyperintensities (age-related brain lesions associated with movement or motor function problems).

In the study, researchers from the Rush University Alzheimer’s Disease Center scanned the brains of 167 older adults. (The average age of each participant was 80.) The participants completed various movement and strength tests—physical activity was measured with wrist monitor devices.

Researchers discovered that increased physical activity levels resulted in improved motor function. In contrast, greater amounts of age-related brain lesions were linked with poor motor function. However, the brain lesions were not connected with degenerated motor skills among the most active individuals.

The results suggest that larger amounts of physical activity may help prevent movement problems by enhancing blood flow to the brain. Weekly exercises also proved to help protect motor function skills from age-related brain damage.

Exercises for Parkinson’s Diseases and Tremors

This research is particularly beneficial for people with Parkinson’s disease, a condition that often becomes more common as people age, especially for those over the age of 50.

This progressive nervous system disorder can slow down movement, cause tremors, and lead to mood or cognitive problems. Parkinson’s disease affects around a million people in the U.S. and there are about 60,000 new cases every year. One of the first signs of Parkinson’s disease is a tremor in the hand, arm, or leg.

Exercises with large, rhythmical movements (i.e. yoga, tai chi, qigong, hiking, simple stretching, etc.) can help improve flexibility and balance, as well as increase your range of motion. Strength training is also important—it typically focuses on weight lifting and resistance exercises, but can also include yard work or gardening. Aerobic exercises, such as skating, water aerobics, cycling, swimming, or walking, can also positively affect movement problems caused by white matter hyperintensities.

Finally, aim to incorporate nutritious supplements in your diet to help prevent and reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s. Include vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), N-acetylcysteine (NAC), and phosphatidylserine.

Recommended herbal remedies include ginkgo biloba extract, green tea, velvet bean, and fava bean.

See More :

“Physical Activity May Reduce Age-Related Movement Problems,” National Institutes of Health web site, March 23, 2015; http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/march2015/03232015movement.htm.
Fleischman, D.A., et al., “Physical activity, motor function, and white matter hyperintensity burden in health older adults,” Neurology 2015; 84(13): 1294-1300.
“Physical Activity and Parkinson’s Disease,” Parkinson Society Canada web site; http://www.parkinson.ca/site/c.kgLNIWODKpF/b.8005673/k.841/Physical_Activity_and_Parkinson8217s_Disease.htm, last accessed June 10, 2015.
Kivi, R., “Essential Tremor,” Healthline web site, August 7, 2012; http://www.healthline.com/health/essential-tremor#Overview1.
“Parkinson’s Disease Overview,” National Parkinson Foundation web site; http://www.parkinson.org/parkinson-s-disease.aspx, last accessed June 10, 2015.
“How much physical activity do adults need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site; http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html, last accessed June 10, 2015.
Jaslow, R., “CDC: 80 percent of American adults don’t get recommended exercise,” CBS News web site, May 3, 2013; http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cdc-80-percent-of-american-adults-dont-get-recommended-exercise/.

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After receiving athletic and academic awards at Yale and Stanford, Jeff has coached those seeking peak wellness, appeared on ABC News 20/20 and served as a consultant for CBS News 60 Minutes and The Late Show with David Letterman. As the author of many research studies and practicing anesthesiology/critical care medicine for more than 20 years, Jeff can be your guide to common sense decision making regarding drugs, supplements and vitamins. With no corporate sponsors and no vitamins or supplements... Read Full Bio »