Exercise and mindfulness often are associated with reduced stress. That can be good for a persons heart and mood. Now Washington University researchers are leading an effort to learn whether those activities also might be good for ones memory. The investigators are studying the effects of exercise and mindfulness training on cognitive function in adults over the age of 65. The researchers wont be studying people with the sort of dementia associated with conditions like Alzheimers disease, but they hope to learn whether some combination of exercise, mindfulness training and lifestyle intervention might help prevent some of the cognitive problems thought to be a normal part of aging.
MOST OF US EXPERIENCE DECLINES IN OUR COGNITIVE ABILITIES AS WE GET OLDER. AFTER THE AGE OF 65, OUR BRAINS DONT FUNCTION QUITE AS WELL AS THEY DID WHEN WE WERE IN OUR 20s OR 30s. NOW RESEARCHERS AT WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE IN ST. LOUIS ARE STUDYING STRATEGIES THAT MAY HELP OLDER ADULTS TO SLOW, PREVENT, OR EVEN REVERSE, SOME OF THOSE DECLINES. JIM DRYDEN REPORTS
THE RESEARCHERS HAVE RECEIVED A FIVE-YEAR, 15 MILLION DOLLAR GRANT FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH TO STUDY PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF 65 WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED SIGNIFICANT DECLINES IN COGNITIVE FUNCTION. WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY GERIATRIC PSYCHIATRIST ERIC LENZE SAYS THAT THE DECLINES BEGIN AS WE APPROACH MIDDLE AGE, AND IN MANY SCIENTIFIC CIRCLES, THE DECLINES ARE CONSIDERED TO BE NORMAL.
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Now that doesnt mean that we all develop dementia.
Its not even what we would consider a cognitive
impairment per se. Many people have thought of that
as just normal aging, right? But the fact is its a
decline compared to where those people were in their
LENZE SAYS PRELIMINARY STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT SOME OF THOSE DECLINES MAY BE REVERSIBLE. HIS TEAM WILL STUDY SEVERAL INTERVENTIONS DESIGNED TO REDUCE STRESS, IMPROVE HEALTH AND POTENTIALLY, TO SLOW DECLINES IN COGNITIVE FUNCTION.
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This decline might not have to happen, or could be, potentially,
reversed or rescued, at least to some extent. So if you were an
older adult, and you knew engaging in exercise was going to get
your brain working again right, you might be more motivated to
AND EXERCISE IS ACTUALLY ONE OF THE INTERVENTIONS LENZE AND HIS COLLEAGUES WILL STUDY. HE SAYS OTHER STUDY SUBJECTS WILL BE PLACED IN A HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAM SO THAT THEY MIGHT GAIN A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW TO TALK TO A DOCTOR, HOW TO CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIORS AND HOW TO TAKE CHARGE OF THEIR PERSONAL HEALTHCARE. MEANWHILE, OTHERS IN THE STUDY WILL RECEIVE AN INTERVENTION KNOWN AS MINDFULNESS TRAINING.
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Now the term mindfulness simply means being in the moment.
Mindfulness training which includes meditation, yoga,
various other techniques is again, its actually commonly
practiced by older adults in many cultures.
IN STUDIES OF OLDER ADULTS SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION OR ANXIETY, LENZE FOUND THAT SOME OF THESE INTERVENTIONS SEEMED TO HELP NOT ONLY WITH A PERSONS MOOD, BUT WITH THEIR BRAIN FUNCTION IN GENERAL.
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One of the reasons that we received this award was based on
some preliminary work that we did with these interventions,
showing their cognitive benefits in some older adults. Maybe,
in fact, the older adults with the greatest degrees of stress
may be, actually, most likely to benefit cognitively from
IN ALL, LENZE AND HIS COLLEAGUES WILL FOLLOW ALMOST 600 PEOPLE OVER AGE 65, TESTING THEIR COGNTIVE FUNCTION DURING 6 MONTHS ON ONE OF THESE INTERVENTIONS, AND FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF FOLLOW-UP TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS ARE FLEETING, OR LONG LASTING. IM JIM DRYDEN