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Benefits of Exercise for the Brain & Overall Health

Exercise including exercise in Home Care, may be more important than you think. Aside from benefiting your physical health, exercise—research shows—packs numerous cognitive benefits. Below, we’re covering the best benefits prolonged exercise has on your brain.

Benefit One: Exercise Improves Executive Functions

Your brain’s executive functions are higher-level thinking skills. These skills include task switching, inhibitory control, goal management and attention. An exercise review supports the positive effects exercise seems to play on these functions—helping healthy individuals manage executive tasks with ease.

Benefit Two: It Lifts Depression

Other research suggests that burning away as little as 350 calories, three times per week, can reduce depression symptoms as effectively as antidepressants. Exercise appears to stimulate neuron growth, assisting brain regions hindered by depression.

Benefit Three: It Boosts Learning Capabilities

Prolonged exercise increases the brain’s ability to learn. In fact, it boosts growth factor chemicals, which establish new brain connections needed to learn. Whether it’s playing tennis, dance skills or coordinating a dexterous activity, the connections made can be applied elsewhere.

Benefit Four: It Improves Body Image

Exercise is an astounding tool for building self-esteem. You needn’t radically change your body’s shape to get more confidence. Simply seeing fitness improvements, like lifting more weight or running faster, can greatly improve your body image and self-esteem.

Benefit Five: It Enhances Willpower

2013 British Journal of Sports Medicine meta-analysis examined several groups of people. It found that even short bouts of exercise boosts willpower. While willpower gets a lot of coverage in the media, exercise isn’t mentioned nearly enough.

Benefit Six: It Regulates Emotions

Being able to control your mindset, emotions and mood is important. It’s also a cognitive skill. Emotional regulation is part of your psychological makeup, and it can be enhanced by your ability to master cognitive control. A number of positive behavioral patterns can emerge from prolonged exercise—especially when that exercise requires a great deal of discipline.

Benefit Seven: It Increases Short-Term Memory

Exercise also enhances your short-term memory capacity. Your post-workout day, in particular, is affected. Working memory is important, and it can be enhanced if your workouts are engaged religiously. Other studies assert exercise’s positive impacts on long-term memory, too.

Benefit Eight: It Promotes Quick Thinking

Thought speed and exercise are connected. Cardiovascular exercise, in particular, is suggested to improve one’s cognitive speed. Across all ages, at least 30 minutes of exercise—in general—can boost one’s agility in short, medium and long-length problem solving sessions. Aerobic fitness levels, experts believe, are linked with stronger white matter integrity within the brain.

Benefit Nine: It Creates Euphoria

Even short bursts of energy, like running or swimming, can leave a euphoric “runner’s high,” which releases endorphins. It’s a great day-boosting energy shot, and it can be used to jumpstart productivity, too.

Benefit Ten: It Reduces the Risk Associated with Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Research Center considers exercise to be one of the best weapons against Alzheimer’s. It protects the hippocampus, which is responsible for your spatial navigation and memory. Recent Archives of Neurology studies, meanwhile, suggest that a daily walk can greatly reduce one’s likelihood of Alzheimer’s, too.

Make sure you’re exercising regularly, and supplement your efforts with a healthy diet. By keeping a tight schedule, you’ll benefit your brain—as well as the mind within it.

Supplements and Medications

Many elders supplement daily diets with herbs, vitamins and minerals. While daily supplementation is healthy—for some, even vital—its interaction with prescription medication can be deadly. Not all medication is created equal, and mundane substances, like cranberry, can create deadly chemical cocktails when consumed alongside medication. Elder Care and Supplements require close attention. Below, we’re covering several supplements, helping you circumnavigate potential dangers.

One: Valerian
Valerian is commonly supplemented to assist with anxiety and insomnia. That said, its 500 possible medication interactions aren’t all safe. Valerian can become dangerous when combined with muscle relaxants, pain medicines, anxiety medicines or antidepressants. These combinations can create dizziness, drowsiness or confusion—all of which may potentiate dangerous scenarios.

Two: Melatonin
The natural hormone, melatonin, regulates one’s sleep-wake cycle. It shouldn’t be mixed with sedating prescriptions, like benzodiazepines or hypnotics, however. In combination, melatonin can negatively impact one’s sleep cycle. It can also reduce blood clotting when mixed with anticoagulants.

Three: Garlic
Commonly consumed to reduce cholesterol, reduce triglycerides and lower blood sugar levels, garlic can negatively impact blood clotting. Those taking blood-thinning agents, like clopidogrel, warfarin or aspirin, may experience negative interactions.

Four: Vitamin K and Vitamin E
Vitamin K and Vitamin E can similarly reduce the effectiveness of anticoagulants, such as warfarin. Because warfarin is highly sensitive to dietary changes, direct supplementation of Vitamin K and Vitamin E may impact the medication’s effects considerably.

Five: Echinacea and Zinc
Many elders supplement Echinacea and zinc to promote immune system health. These supplements, however, can interfere with cyclosporine and corticosteroids—which are taken to suppress the immune system. Echinacea should be avoided completely if you’re taking liver-impacting medications, like Nizoral or Arava.

Six: Grapefruit Extract
Grapefruit extract, derived from the fruit’s peel, pulp and juice, can interfere with stomach enzymes. For this reason, it can increase your stomach’s absorption of certain drugs—creating the potential for overdose. If you’re taking antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, calcium channel blockers, anti-arrhythmic drugs, benzodiazepines or impotence drugs, consider reducing your grapefruit extract consumption.

Seven: Green Tea
Commonly used to reduce stomach disorders, lower cholesterol and consumed as an anti-cancer antioxidant, green tea greatly reduces belly fat. It’s an incredibly popular supplement, used to boost one’s metabolism, aid weight loss and supplement Vitamin K. While green tea is relatively mundane, it can interfere with blood thinners. In fact, reports cover the substantial decrease in the INR in patients treated with warfarin following green tea consumption.

Eight: Yohimbe
Yohimbe is an evergreen tree located in African countries. Its bark contains a chemical titled yohimbine, which dilates blood vessels. It’s used to reduce erectile dysfunction symptoms, boost libido and repair problems impacting selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Yohimbe shouldn’t, however, be taken by elders who’re taking blood-pressure-impacting medications. It can increase one’s heart rate rapidly, negatively impacting preexisting angina pectoris, hypertension or heart disease issues.

Today, the above-mentioned herbal supplements can be purchased over the counter. A lot of them are taken daily, and for good reason: They work. While these products can boost one’s health overall, they might negatively impact one’s bodily stability. Always talk to a provider before beginning supplementation, and always put your medication first. Many Americans take herbal and non-herbal supplements, but not everyone knows about their potentially dangerous interactions.



Tips for Caregivers: Supporting Independent Senior Living

caregivers for seniorsFor many aging seniors, independent living is a priority. Living in their own homes not only increases comfort but sustains a sense of place and belonging. For the caregivers for seniors, however, this may be a nerve-wracking possibility. If you are caring for an aging loved one, the risk of injury and unattended emergencies may be too high for your comfort. Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure the safety and comfort of your relative.

  1. Make Their Home A Safe Environment
    Elderly care at home starts with outfitting the home itself with necessary safety features. To prevent slips and falls, be sure to install traction strips on the bottom of all area rugs. Installing handrails in the shower and along any staircases is also an important safety step. Depending on their mobility ability, a shower chair might be useful as well. If your loved one uses a walker or cane, be sure to hide any exposed electrical wires to avoid trips.
  2. Be Prepared for Emergencies
    Technology has made independent living possible when it may not have been in the past. Personal emergency response systems are pieces of wearable tech that would allow your loved one to call for help by pushing a button. These systems can be especially useful for heart attacks, strokes, and falls, and in giving caregivers for seniors a bit of reassurance. To further ensure their security, install a home security system. While you should be checking with your loved one regularly anyway, these technologies will offer you extra peace of mind.
  3. Plan Outings and Social Events
    Studies show that the happiest seniors are involved in three to four regular activities, while the least happy are involved in one or two. Assisting your loved one in getting out of the house is imperative to their mental health. Trips to the grocery store, for example, will maintain a sense of normalcy even if your family member can no longer drive. While functional outings are important, so are social outings. Allow your loved one the joy of a vibrant social life by helping them meet up with friends.
  4. Stay Updated On Medical Needs
    Caregivers for seniors should always be informed of the medical needs of their loved ones. If you provide transportation to medical appointments, be sure to speak with your family member’s doctor about any changes in medical needs. Be sure to know your role in their overall healthcare, and know when to hire help for in home elderly care.

While independent living is not always the easiest elder care option, home health care for seniors can provide a fulfilling life for years to come.