Keeping the body and mind nimble

By Staff
Jerry A. Chanault, Urban R.E.A. New and Nontraditional Programs
Stiffness, soreness, slow movement, and loss of memory. That's what we have to look forward to in the golden years, right? Hair loss, loss of flexibility, aches, pains, and can't remember where the kitchen is–pretty sad thing to look forward to isn't it? But does it have to be like that? Isn't there anything we can do to prevent all these bad things from happening to us? Are we doomed to dementia and loss of movement? I'll bet you're thinking yes, but researchers are saying it may not have to be this way. I'm interested.
I guess you've heard people say that as we age we need to stay active and keep working the mind, right? I suppose crossword puzzle companies just love us for it, too. But new research is showing that we need to do more than thinking to keep the mind sharp in old age. Mental stimulation isn't enough!
So what am I saying? I keep hearing people say their doctor told them to exercise to fight off the pains of arthritis even though it hurts. It's when we sit down that we give up and rust out! Newer research is showing that not only do we need to exercise to combat loss of muscle, loss of balance, loss of flexibility, etc., but also that we need it for mental power as well. Physical activity gives your brain a boost as well as your body.
Research has shown that exercise increases the blood flow to your brain and causes brain-cell growth, as well as increasing the levels of important chemicals in your noggin! We need at least 30 minutes of this per day for the rest of our lives. The benefits are enormous … like increasing your flexibility, lowering your blood pressure, controlling your blood sugar … and on and on! That's why I love the martial arts so much. And I'm thinking of trying to develop a program for seniors. Exercise and martial arts at a lower impact. Interested? Let me know!
Besides exercise, most of us could do a little better in eating right. There's a lot of new research on that too. Want to know more? I'm glad, because there's an Extension educational conference planned just for you! It's called "Functional Foods: The NEW Medicine" and it will be held in Huntsville on April 20, 2006 from 7:30 – 3:00 at Holiday Inn Research Park. It's all about foods and food substances designed to lower the risk of diseases. And it's a great opportunity for educators, health care professionals, producers, and consumers to learn more about which fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms provide major health benefits (as well as new ways to market them). Learn what to include in your diet, and get a sample lunch of it!
There are discounts for full-time students and sessions (65 and over) – registration is only $25 – and early-bird registration is only $35 (before March 16th)! CEU's will be available for nurses, dieticians, and Family &Consumer Scientists. Got questions? Contact me at (256) 974-2464 or the conference chairperson, Dr. Cathy Sabota at (256)372-4257. You can e-mail her at catherine.sabota@email.aamu.edu. I hope to see you there!

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