Train for Your Brain

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Give Your Neurons a Workout
Give Your Neurons a Workout

Physical activity reduces risk for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Need another reason to exercise?  Turns out it’s a workout for your brain as well.

Two recent studies looked at exercise and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  MCI typically involves memory impairment, but can also affect language, attention, reasoning, judgment, reading and writing.

In the first study participants who reported moderate exercise during midlife or later life were less likely to have MCI.   The authors suggest this may be due to production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to the brain or other neuronal and cardiovascular benefits.  Although people who are more physically active could also “show the same type of discipline in dietary habits, accident prevention…compliance with medical care and similar health-promoting behaviors.”

The second study followed 29 participants (average age 70) with MCI.  Those randomly assigned to an exercise group, completed 4 days per week of 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.  The control group did stretching exercises, but maintained low heart rates.

The vigorous exercisers showed improved cognitive function compared to the control group.  The authors point out that this would be a cost-effective practice to improve cognitive performance without the adverse effects of many drug therapies.

Seemingly simple, exercising consistently is difficult for many Americans.  If you’re looking for ideas, AICR offers tips on starting and maintaining a physical activity program.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, how do you manage to fit it in?  Let us know.

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    What’s the Color of Action?

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    Recently, many women have started adding their bra color to their Facebook status updates to help raise awareness about breast cancer.

    Pink ribbon sweater small copy But we at AICR are wondering something, and we want to hear what you think.  Is raising awareness enough?

    One NPR blogger, Shereen Meraji, asks this very question. “I changed my status, but I don’t know anything more about breast cancer or how to protect myself against it.”

    She’s not alone.  In fact, according to a recent AICR survey, almost half of Americans are not aware of some basic steps we can take to lower our risk for several cancers.

    Certainly, AICR applauds efforts to raise awareness about cancer.  But let’s also raise awareness about cancer prevention, while we’re at it.

    Reminding your Facebook friends that breast cancer is a disease faced by millions of women is a good first step; but why not provide them with evidenced-based recommendations on how to protect themselves?

    AICR recently updated the breast cancer chapter of our expert report on cancer prevention, and we estimate that about 40 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S. (about 70,000 cases every year) are preventable.  Women can reduce their risk by limiting the amount of alcohol they drink, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.

    The Breast Cancer Update Reinforces AICR Recommendations:

    1. Because of the link between body fat and cancer, AICR recommends people aim to be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
    2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
    3. If they drink at all, people should limit consumption to one drink a day for a woman, two for a man.
    4. Also, mothers should aim to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and thn add other liquids and foods. Mothers who breastfeed reduce their risk and breastfeeding probably also reduces babies’ chances of gaining excess weight as they grow.

    What do you think – does raising awareness need action too?

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      Tiny Cabbage Powerhouses

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      Lemon brussels sprouts photo 23168Today’s AICR e-News features two delicious Brussels sprouts recipes. Great tasting and full of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, these mini-cabbages have become favorites at Farmer’s Markets and in most supermarkets.

      For all you Brussels sprouts lovers out there, let us know some ways you enjoy these gems or tips for preparing them. Post a comment so others can enjoy!

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