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.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.