The Phoenix

Heed health care provider’s exercise advice

- By John Grimaldi

The Associatio­n of Mature American Citizens strongly encourages older Americans to stay in shape. But we offer this advice with an abundance of caution.

Your health care providers call the shots, and we recommend that seniors heed their advice when it comes to what you should or should not do for exercise, said AMAC’s CEO Rebecca Weber.

Dr. Andrew E. Budson is chief of cognitive and behavioral neurology at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, lecturer in neurology at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the Science of Learning Innovation Group at the Harvard Medical School Academy.

“Changes in strength, swiftness and stamina with age are all associated with decreasing muscle mass,” he said. “Although there is not much decline in your muscles between ages 20 and 40, after age 40 there can be a decline of 1% to 2% per year in lean body mass and 1.5% to 5% per year in strength.”

Budson noted that aging can also raise coordinati­on issues as we grow older, issues that are associated to the brain and nervous system. He said that reduced strength and coordinati­on, too, is the result of a lack of physical activity.

Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapy specialist Brock Armstrong agreed.

“Exercise affects the brain in many ways,” Armstrong said. “It increases heart rate, which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It aids the release of hormones which provide an excellent environmen­t for the growth of brain cells.

“Exercise also promotes brain plasticity by stimulatin­g growth of new connection­s between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain. Research from UCLA even demonstrat­ed that exercise increased growth factors in the brain which makes it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connection­s.”

The National Institutes of Health also tells us that as we age cognitive issues may emerge. For example, it can get harder to make quick decisions.

“Age-related diseases accelerate the rate of neuronal dysfunctio­n, neuronal loss and cognitive decline, with many persons developing cognitive impairment­s severe enough to impair their everyday functional abilities, the definition of dementia,” the NIH said. “There is growing evidence that healthy lifestyles may decrease the rate of cognitive decline seen with aging and help delay the onset of cognitive symptoms in the setting of age-associated diseases.”

In other words, Weber said, exercise can be good for the brain and body as we age; talk to your doctor about it. He or she can help you design an exercise regimen tailored to your needs.

The 2.4 million member Associatio­n of Mature American Citizens, www. amac.us, is a vibrant, vital senior advocacy organizati­on that takes its marching orders from its members. AMAC Action is a nonprofit, non-partisan organizati­on representi­ng the membership in our nation’s capital and in local congressio­nal districts throughout the country.

 ?? STOCKSNAP ?? Exercise is good for your physical and mental health, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting a regimen.
STOCKSNAP Exercise is good for your physical and mental health, but be sure to check with your doctor before starting a regimen.

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