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Exercise Improves Independent Living for Alzheimer’s Patients

Posted May 12 2013 10:10pm

Alzheimer’s Disease is characterized by a progressive loss in functional independence, such as moving about to complete everyday tasks and handle one’s personal care.  Kaisu Pitkälä, from the University of Helsinki (Finland), and colleagues enrolled 210 people with Alzheimer's disease (ages 65 years and older), who could walk independently and were living at home under the care of a spouse. Participants also satisfied one of the following conditions:  at least one fall during the past year; decreased walking speed; unintentional weight loss.  Subjects were randomly assigned to one of three groups for a year of study: group sessions twice weekly with about an hour of exercise, tailored home-based exercise for an hour twice a week, and a control group getting usual community care. The researchers used standardized measurements to assess physical functioning and mobility, and tracked usage of  health and social services via government registers and medical records.  After a year, all patients had deteriorating physical function, but those in the exercise programs had slower declines: the decline on the functional independence measure after a year was 7.1 points for those in the home exercise group, 10.3 points for those taking group exercise, and 14.4 points for those in the control group.   There was no significant effect on changes in mobility. On average, the yearly cost for health and social services in the control group was $34,121 compared with $22,066 for those taking group exercise and $25,112 for those in the home exercise cohort. The study authors conclude that: “An intensive and long-term exercise program had beneficial effects on the physical functioning of patients with [Alzheimer’s Disease] without increasing the total costs of health and social services or causing any significant adverse effects.”

Kaisu H. Pitkala, Minna M. Poysti, Marja-Liisa Laakkonen, Reijo S. Tilvis, Niina Savikko, et al.  “Effects of the Finnish Alzheimer Disease Exercise Trial (FINALEX): A Randomized Controlled Trial.”  JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-8, April 15, 2013.

An at-home exercise program for people with Alzheimer's disease helps them cope with activities of daily living, without increasing health and social care costs
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Tip #161 - Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is made from the Camellia sinesis plant, where the leaves and stems are not aged and undergo very little processing. Containing less caffeine than black tea, green tea is most noted for an antioxidant compound known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to inhibit an anti-apoptotic protein involved In some types of cancer. Green tea may have a future interventive role in combating a number of diseases:

• Heart Disease: Researchers from Athens Medical School (Greece) studied 14 healthy men and women (average age 30 years) and found that regular consumption of green tea improved the function of the heart’s endothelial cells (cells lining the walls of blood vessels). Specifically, green tea consumed on three occasions at a dose of 6 grams, increased the flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of the blood vessel’s ability to relax, by 3.9% within 30 minutes after consumption of the beverage.

• High Blood Pressure & Elevated Cholesterol: University of Florida (USA) researchers studied 52 healthy men and 72 healthy women, ages 21 to 70 years, assigning them to receive daily one of three green tea extract nutritional supplements, or placebo. After 3 weeks, those subjects who received the green tea supplements experienced reduced blood pressure [5 mmHg (systole) and 4 mmHg (diastole)], reduced total cholesterol [10 mg/dL], and reduced LDL (low-density, “bad”) cholesterol [9 mg/dL]. Further, after 3 months of supplementation with green tea extract, study subjects had a 12% lower oxidative stress marker as well as a 42% reduction in a chronic inflammation marker.

• Breast Cancer: A team from Vanderbilt School of Medicine (Tennessee, USA) studied 3,454 women with breast cancer, ages 20 to 74 years, and a comparable control group of 3,474 similarly aged women. All of the women were individually interviewed and their habits in drinking green tea were assessed. The team found that regular consumption of green tea was associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of breast cancer. In addition, premenopausal women reaped increased benefits relative to the number of years they had been regular green tea drinkers.

• Weight Loss: A team from Provident Clinical Research (Indiana, USA) assessed 107 subjects in a 12-week long study. Each study participant received either a green tea beverage containing 625 mg of catechins with 39 mg caffeine or a control beverage (39 mg caffeine, no catechins). During the study period, the subjects each completed 180 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week...

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