Tuesday, October 23, 2018
News Roundup

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

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 [email protected]

 
Comments
Canadian Mounties assist in child porn case against Hillsborough Community College professor

Canadian Mounties assist in child porn case against Hillsborough Community College professor

TAMPA — A Hillsborough Community College math professor is facing child pornography charges after federal agents said he exchanged illicit images online, according to a criminal complaint.Howard Joseph Vorder Bruegge III was arrested Tuesday at his e...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
District swimming notebook: Lofty expectations for a stacked Plant girls team

District swimming notebook: Lofty expectations for a stacked Plant girls team

TAMPA — Plant is back in the pool and looking as strong as ever.Maybe stronger than ever.Which is saying a lot considering the Panther girls finished as state runners-up the past two years, losing to only to one of the best teams in the country...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region volleyball: Bishop McLaughlin handles its business

SPRING HILL — Not too many playoff volleyball matches clock in at under an hour, but Bishop McLaughlin is not like too many volleyball teams.The Hurricanes' perfect record was not in the slightest jeopardy Tuesday night as they rolled past visi...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region volleyball: Calvary Christian cruises into region final

CLEARWATER — Calvary Christian made short of work of Maitland Orangewood Christian in Tuesday night's Class 4A region semifinal in a 25-12, 25-20, 25-9 win. The Warriors (19-7) will host Shorecrest next Tuesday. They defeated the Char...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hernando school board affirms firing of ex-superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school board affirms firing of ex-superintendent Lori Romano

After the former superintendent appealed her firing, the board had to decide whether it acted properly back in June.
Updated: 3 hours ago
Deputies release name of Tampa mother and son killed in weekend double homicide

Deputies release name of Tampa mother and son killed in weekend double homicide

TAMPA — Deputies have released the names of the mother and her 10-year-old son who were fatally shot in a double homicide on Sunday.Stephanie Ann Willis, 34, and son Ricky Willis were killed in their home at Mariner’s Cove apartments by Willis’ live-...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Man fatally shoots stepfather, then himself in Tampa apartment, deputies say

Man fatally shoots stepfather, then himself in Tampa apartment, deputies say

TAMPA — A woman concerned that she hadn’t heard from her husband came home Tuesday to find that her adult son had killed the man and then himself, authorities said.Juan Luis Hernandez II, 30, shot himself after first killing his stepfather, Michael E...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs rookies embrace ‘being a kid again’ at community event

Bucs rookies embrace ‘being a kid again’ at community event

TAMPA — M.J. Stewart proudly wore a pink feather boa picked out for him by a new friend. Carlton Davis and Ronald Jones wore sparkly party hats. Alex Cappa walked around with a star sticker on his forehead. Shaun Wilson and Jordan Whitehead com...
Updated: 4 hours ago
There were two fatal wrong-way crashes last weekend. Should we be worried?

There were two fatal wrong-way crashes last weekend. Should we be worried?

A Pinellas Park man made a U-turn on the Howard Frankland Bridge on Friday, driving in the wrong direction for several miles before crashing into a van. The wrong-way driver died at the scene.Two days later, a Seffner man with his headlights off drov...
Updated: 5 hours ago