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Better Tests With More Movement

I attended an overcrowded grade school.  From 1st through 8th grade, we had 40 or more children in a classroom.  One Felician sister kept order by keeping everyone seated and stationary.  During my grade school education, I was stuck in a chair and every day it felt like time had stood still.  When a school day came to an end, the children were so movement deprived they would literally sprint out the doors.  I believe this illustrates the psychological impact of depriving children of movement during the day.

I know we have to be concerned with standardized test scores, and that taking time for physical activity takes away from reading, math, and science.  A long litany of research is revealing that children score better on tests when they are able to move around more.  More movement creates a healthier brain and better test scores.  More of the brain is devoted to movement than language, and if we wish to fully develop intellectual capacity, we need to include movement.  This appears to be even more important for boys.

Everyone involved in improving education needs to read Spark, by Dr John Ratey.  In this book, he discusses how brain function is enhanced by the habit of exercise.  Over the last nine years, more research has documented the positive effects of exercise on brain health.  A teacher friend sent me this *article from the New York Times.  If you have grandchildren or children you need to read this.

Micheal S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

* Why Kids Shouldn’t Sit Still in Class, Donna De La Cruz, New York Times, March 21, 2017.  Read the article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/well/family/why-kids-shouldnt-sit-still-in-class.html?_r=0

Think About This

The Latest Science on the Prevention of Alzheimer’s

Over the last 30 years, more than two hundred experimental drugs have failed to produce any success in the fight against Alzheimer’s.  It does not appear we are going to have a pharmaceutical for the treatment of Alzheimer’s any time in the near future.  A recent *article in the April issue of Scientific American discusses a treatment option that does appear to work.  This is currently our only hope in the fight against this terrible disease.  The good news is the treatment that prevents cognitive decline helps with so many other problems.

The study’s researchers demonstrated that an interventional program of exercise, proper nutrition, and cognitive training produced significant improvements in brain function.  The **Finnish Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER study) enrolled 1260 men and women between ages 60 and 77.  Over the course of two years, participants demonstrated improved cognitive test scores in processing speed (up 150%), executive function (up 83%), and complex memory (up 40%).

The exercise program in this study was not complex or time consuming.  The routines were developed by physical therapists and performed four or five days a week.  The exercise sessions involved strength training, balance skills, and aerobic activities.  As the participants became fitter, their training regimens were progressed–more challenging activities, more resistance, and/or more volume.  The time spent in training was four to five hours a week.

If your goal is to maintain or improve cognitive capacity and remain independent, then the prescription is a consistent routine of exercise.  Take the time to read the article, lace up your sneakers, and make a progressive program of fitness a lifelong habit.

* A Rare Success Against Alzheimer’s, Scientific American, April 2017

** The FINGER study, Alzheimer Prevention. Download the article here: http://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0LEViMTIfZYurkAQNsnnIlQ;_ylu=X3oDMTBybGY3bmpvBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMyBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg–/RV=2/RE=1492554131/RO=10/RU=http%3a%2f%2fwww.alzheimersprevention.org%2fdownloadables%2fFINGER-study-report-by-ARPF.pdf/RK=0/RS=fHWCrTAi9LEEDrH5jWfmRvAI7LU-

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

hippocampusWhile performing Kettlebell swings or some medicine ball throws, I get the question, “What does that exercise work?”  The answer is “My brain.”  I quickly explain how optimal training activates your nervous system and builds the neurons and synapses necessary for brain health.  A research query of great interest is the impact exercise has on the aging brain.  The New York Times, December 31, 2016 article by Dr. Lisa Felman Barrett, *How to Become a ‘Superager’, presents some interesting research.

The article discusses the research results that studied functional MRI scans of the brains of superagers.  Superagers are elderly individuals that score well on tests of memory, task attentiveness, and planning.  These MRI evaluations looked at both the anatomical and activity differences in various locations of the brains of these cognitively adept older adults.  The researchers and Dr. Feldman Barret give us some recommendations on lifestyle challenges that produce a superager brain.   It involves some consistent involvement in strenuous exercise activity and ongoing intellectually challenging tasks.

*New York Times, December 31, 2016, Dr. Lisa Felman Barrett, How to Become a ‘Superager’.  See the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/31/opinion/sunday/how-to-become-a-superager.html?_r=0

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

 

 

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