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Health Matters

A roundup of relevant news about health, fitness and care for seniors.

Dance improves seniors’ health

National Dance DayDid you know that July 26 marks National Dance Day? Initiated in 2010 by the Dizzy Feet Foundation, National Dance Day is celebrated the last Saturday of July to encourage Americans to embrace dance as a fun way to maintain good health.   

Travel promotes healthy aging

Travel and healthy agingNow that we’re in the thick of summer, many people have vacations on their mind. Recent studies suggest that vacations are more than simply relaxing and fun – they can even improve your health. Now that’s some good news!

The Global Coalition on Aging surveyed adults’ perspectives on travel. More than 70 percent said vacations are mentally stimulating, 75 percent said they help improve stress levels and even physical health, and a whopping 86 percent reported boosts in mood and overall happiness as a result of travel.

Perhaps the most obvious explanation for the powerful impact of travel is that it’s relaxing by nature – as such, it helps reduce our stress and subsequently, reduce stress hormones that speed up the aging process.

Boost heart health for brain health

Heart and brain healthRecently, the American Heart Association released “Life’s Simple 7,” an assessment tool measuring cardiovascular health.

As the name suggests, the assessment tool zeros in on seven areas of our lives – usually behaviors linked with heart health. The test asks questions related to your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, smoking status, body mass index, physical activity and diet. Sample questions include the level of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and sodium consumed per day, as well as the level of moderate and vigorous exercise you engage in per week.

If you score high on the assessment – congratulations! Your cardiovascular health is in tip-top shape. As an added bonus, you’re also less likely to develop cognitive impairment later in life. 

Sleep may slow dementia symptoms

sleep and dementiaA study from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that sleep could be even more important than we thought; in addition to helping us learn new things, make decisions, process memory, react quickly and more, sleep could help slow the brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

How? By cleaning up “gunk” that builds up in the brain while we’re awake, including the protein beta-amyloid. These proteins clump and form sticky plaques between nerve cells in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, blocking cell-to-cell signaling and potentially leading to cell death and tissue loss.

Tai Chi and yoga for healthy aging

yoga for healthy agingPhysical and mental activities are both essential to healthy aging.

Physical exercise of course improves your overall health, reducing your risk for heart disease and other illnesses. Meanwhile, it can reduce your risk for falls by improving your balance. By increasing muscle strength and flexibility, exercise also improves mobility, helping you maintain your independence longer.