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Birthdays become a dreaded affair as we grow old. It comes and goes as a strong reminder of our ageing process indicating every time that we are becoming older and wiser but what about staying healthier? Ageing is not a standalone process that happens without any consequences-it is an irreversible process that makes it a cherished experience for some and a dreaded affair for some others depending on their body’s response and the mind’s attitude towards it. Not many individuals are hale and healthy even during their younger years which makes growing old a tiring and an apprehensive affair for most. Besides physical health, it takes a toll on our mental well-being too. This is mostly because of the fact that most seniors suffer from loneliness, self-pity and depression mostly due to seclusion and the behaviour of the society towards the elderly population. Memory fades away and even the smartest person starts forgetting things as he/she grows old. Mental health and staying mentally sharp have been important fields of study for researchers who have come up with different suggestions for improving brain health and delaying dementia onset.
Dementia, the loss of cognitive functioning, is an over concerning issue for more senior citizens as we can see increasing rates of this disorder in a majority of them. Though there have been different suggestions such as solving puzzles, staying active and performing exercise for minimizing its risk we don’t see much difference in rates. The good fact here is that people have started recognizing the high prevalence rates of this disorder and have started taking precautionary steps in recent times. Its already been proved that exercise helps in improving brain health of old people but now researchers at McMaster University have discovered that high-intensity workouts improve memory in older adults. The researchers included 64 older participants aged 66-80 years splitting them into different groups based on exercises performed-stretching, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT). The first group did gentle stretches, the HIIT group did intense workouts that pushed their heart rates up by 90-95% and the MICT group did moderate -treadmill exercise that pushed their heart rate up by 70-75%. All of them were healthy, sedentary adults who exercised thrice a week for 12 weeks.
Results showed that HIIT group showed substantial increase in high-interface memory compared to MICT or control group. Those who exercised using short, bursts of activity observed a 30% increase in memory performance while those who worked out moderately saw no improvement. The study also showed that increased fitness led to improved memory-greater the adherence to the training schedule, greater was the fitness levels and better was their memory. This study comes as a cheer for elderly individuals who suffer greater mental trauma fearing dementia risk, suffer from increased dementia attack debilitating their quality of life and making the life of both, the sufferer and the caretaker a greater pain. Caretaking is no simple chore and it needs umpteen levels of patience and perseverance to fulfil the job’s demand that can disturb one’s health in many ways-read more about this from the website www.firsteatright.com and learn simple tips to keep your physical and mental health in shape. Physical activity is the biggest modifiable risk factor for dementia and if you are someone who hasn’t exercised since decades it is better to increase exercise intensity when you start working out if you want to see quick results. While dementia might be genetic it is always wiser to take steps and do everything possible from our end to reduce the risk as much as possible-one of which is physical exercise.
Your joys have no boundaries when you experience your baby kicking inside the womb for the first time between the 16th and 25th week of pregnancy. If its your first pregnancy you are sure to ask your hubby to experience the movement too by placing his hand over your tummy. It’s a feeling of excitement, elation and happiness. While the movement of the fetus assures the pregnant woman that the infant is growing normally why do these little ones kick us in the first place?
A Quick Kick
Known as ‘quickening’ most pregnant women express the kick as a butterfly feeling, nervous twitching or a tumbling motion. While a first-time mom finds it difficult to find it until the 22nd week of pregnancy maybe and fail to differentiate it from hunger pangs or other movements, a second- or third-time mom can feel one instantly and differentiate it from other feelings too.
The kick starts off slowly but during the second and third trimester the kicks grow stronger and become more frequent. There are studies showing that the baby moves between 25 and 30 times an hour during the third trimester. These little ones are up to their own naughty little stuff inside the womb. They become most active when you try to sleep at night and might even try to kick anyone who tries to cuddle you while sleeping-its not restricted to your spouse but it could even be your elder son/daughter. Hmmm, the fetus claims full ownership of the mommy even before he/she sees the light of the world. This is pretty tough to deal with I say!
Doctors request the pregnant lady to keep a count of the number of kicks that you experience to assure yourself that the baby is growing normally. You should be able to experience at least 10 good movements through the day. But the number of movements varies baby to baby. Some are very active and keep moving around while other babies don’t. But absence of movement might also mean that your baby is sleeping. If it is beyond the 32nd week, it might mean that the baby has become big and there is not much space for the movement.
While what I’ve listed above is well-known by all, a new study gives us another perspective about why a fetus kicks and how it helps them grow. The study researched on the sleep patterns of 19 newborns between 31 and 42 weeks of which some of them were premature babies. The researcher noted the infants corrected gestation age which helps denote the exact age of the baby from conception regardless of when the baby was born. Only when an infant is born between 37-42 weeks of pregnancy, he/she is labeled as a full-term baby. So, while it might be a week after birth, the preterm baby would be considered as 35 weeks old if he/she was born at the 34th week of pregnancy. Read more about preterm babies and their ways into the world by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Researchers looked at the brainwaves that fetuses produce when they kick during their rapid eye movement sleep (REM). Premature babies generally have a faster brainwave but the fast waves disappear as the babies grow past a few weeks. Researchers say that kicks during the third trimester help the infant in developing brain ideas that are linked to sensory input and also helps the little one realize about his/her own body. In animals such as rats, reflex movements and constant environmental feedbacks are necessary for clear brain mapping and researchers feel that this might be true in the case of humans too.
As brain development takes place the fetus kicks and responds to his/her own brain activity and also other things such as maternal movement, light, sound and other such stimuli. During the last trimester, it is more of a rolling than kicking but any movement is appreciated. It gives scope for a little exercise to the muscles and limbs, response to stimuli and also helps the brain make connections to the spatial sense.
But one question that still keeps haunting physicians includes what changes in frequency of movements mean. There’s no evidence that kick counts are a sure-shot way to prevent stillbirths. Every mother should realize what’s normal for herself and the baby, the number of kicks and the time of the kick. Some women might not feel a kick when they are busy with some chore. Hence, it is best to notice movements when they sit down peacefully feeling relaxed.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.