Category Archives: Exercise and Health

Middle-Aged Women Who Exercise Could Delay Dementia

exerciseFor middle-aged women, physical fitness may do more than give the heart a boost; it may also benefit the brain in a big way. Recent findings out of Sweden show that middle-aged women with a “high degree” of cardiovascular fitness are 90% less likely to develop dementia later in life than those who had just a moderate fitness level.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also discovered that if the middle-aged women who maintained a high fitness level did develop dementia, the symptoms tended to emerge 11 years later (on average) than they did for the women who had a moderate fitness level.

To conduct this study, a team of researchers from the Center for Aging and Health at the University of Gothenburg studied the health data of 191 local women, ages 38-60, from 1968-2012. At the beginning of the trial, the participants were given an exercise test in which they cycled on a stationary bike until they felt exhausted.

After tracking the health of the women for 44 years, the researchers found that the initial fitness test scores helped predict whether the participants would be diagnosed with dementia later in life. The results showed that 32% of the women with a low fitness score developed dementia during the study period, compared with 25% of women with a moderate fitness score and just 5% of the highly fit women.

The highest dementia rates were seen in women who started the exercise test but couldn’t complete it: a whopping 45% of these women went on to develop dementia later on in life.

Though this singular study doesn’t fully prove a direct link between exercise and a lowered risk of dementia, it’s clear that exercising frequently (aim for 150 minutes per week) is extremely beneficial for both the body and brain. In years to come, studies like this one will allow researchers to provide clearer recommendations for exercise and other lifestyle modifications to reduce the risk of dementia and more.

 Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in exercise and healthjoint replacement surgery, sports medicine and more. Contact Dr. Stickney and return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle!

How to Prevent Falls in the Winter

walkingonsnowThis time of year, outdoor walkways more closely resemble skating rinks, as they become slippery hazards obscured by leaves, rain, ice and snow. Though many falls are more embarrassing than they are painful, injuries and even deaths caused by falling are common and more prevalent in the winter months (though it’s important to be cautious of trip hazards year-round).

Senior citizens, being less agile and more fragile, are especially at risk. Unfortunately, falls are the number one cause of injury to seniors, one in three of whom will fall each year and too often, the result is a debilitating fracture, loss of independence or death.

So, how to avoid outdoor slips, trips and falls this winter? The New York Times offers a few tips:

  1. “Check your footwear. Shoes and boots should have slip-resistant soles (rubber or neoprene, not plastic or leather). Or equip them with external traction cleats, sold under brand names like Yaktrax.
  2. Take smaller steps, bend forward slightly, go slow and walk as flat-footed as possible when it’s icy or snowy. Check the steps and sidewalk for black ice before going out in the morning, even if only to pick up the paper or mail. Do likewise when stepping out of a vehicle. Although the air temperature may be above freezing, dew or fog can freeze on a colder surface.
  3. Always use a handrail when going up and down stairs. Consider installing a railing on stoops that lack them. If an item you want to carry is too big to hold in one hand or arm, ask someone to help.”

Along with these tips, it’s vital to maintain your physical strength and balance as much as possible as you age. Higher levels of physical activity have been shown to protect against falls, so keep active or consider sessions with a personal trainer or physical therapist if you aren’t sure where to start.

Even after taking all the precautions, falls are bound to happen, and when they do, it’s important to be prepared. Some experts recommend learning “the right way to fall” which involves trying to stay relaxed as you fall, tucking your head when falling backward to avoid hitting your head, rolling onto your back upon landing and more.

Do you have questions about staying active in the winter or preventing dangerous falls? Dr. Stickney, a Kirkland orthopedic surgeon, is an expert in joint replacement surgerysports medicine, exercise and health and more. Contact Dr. Stickney and return to your healthy, pain-free lifestyle!