Health risks associated with regular naps; Mental activities vs cognitive decline; and update on the benefits of 10,000 daily steps

Napping regularly may increase your risk of high blood pressure and stroke, researchers say

According to a major new study published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, adults who take frequent naps are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure and having a stroke.

Study participants who took regular naps during the day were 12% more likely to develop high blood pressure over time, and they were 24% more likely to have a stroke – compared to people who didn’t. had never taken a nap. For study participants younger than 60, the risk was higher. If they naped regularly, their risk of developing high blood pressure increased by 20%, compared to those who never or rarely naped.

The results confirm the importance of getting a full night’s sleep, which benefits overall health. Adequate sleep of 7 to 9 hours per night for adults, and more for children, is now considered essential for a healthy life, according to the recently updated “Life’s Essential 8” factors for achieving healthy American Heart Association (AAH) Optimal Cardiovascular Heart Rate. People who take regular naps do so because they don’t get enough sleep at night and are more likely to have other bad lifestyle habits, previous studies have shown.

In the new study, the researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank, a previous study that recorded genetic and health data on more than 500,000 people, aged 40 to 69, who lived in the UK between 2006 and 2010. Those who already had high blood pressure or a stroke at the start of the study were excluded, leaving 358,451 study participants. The researchers looked at three categories of naps: usually, sometimes, and never/rarely.

Of the participants, 50,507 had hypertension and 4,333 had strokes with median follow-up periods of 11.2 years.

Researchers: Physical and mental activities as you age help fight cognitive decline

Previously established benefits of physical and mental activities as people age may preserve brain processing speed and may help delay or combat cognitive aging, a new study indicates.

The study focused on the effects of exercise and mental activities – such as reading, going to class, playing cards or other games – on ‘cognitive reserve’ when it comes to thinking speed and memory. Cognitive reserve refers to the brain’s buffer or protection against the development of cognitive impairment and dementia.

A slowdown in brain processing speed is a key factor in cognitive aging. Being able to think faster helps with problem solving, everyday tasks, and the ability to focus and start conversations with others.

“We found that greater physical activity was associated with greater thinking speed reserve in women, but not in men,” said study author Judy Pa, Ph.D., from the University of California at San Diego. “Participating in more mental activities was associated with a greater reserve of thinking speed for both men and women.”

Mental processing speed in both men and women benefited from cognitive activities such as playing card games and reading, according to the study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 758 people with an average age of 76. Participants underwent brain scans and took mental “speed and memory tests,” a press release said. “To calculate cognitive reserve, people’s thinking test scores were compared to changes in the brain associated with dementia, such as the total volume of the hippocampus, a key brain region affected by Alzheimer’s disease.” , says the new press release.

Study participants were also asked about their usual weekly physical activity. In the domain of mental activity, they were asked if they participated in three types of activities: reading magazines, newspapers or books; go to classes; and play cards, games or bingo. They were awarded one point for each type of activity, for a maximum of three points.

For mental activity, participants scored an average of 1.4 points. For physical activity, participants took part in an average of at least 15 minutes per week of exercise, such as brisk walking and cycling.

Each additional mental activity that people participated in corresponded to 13 years less aging in their processing speed – 17 years in men and 10 years in women.

“Knowing that people could potentially improve their cognitive reserve by taking simple steps like going to class at the community center, playing bingo with their friends or spending more time walking or gardening is very exciting,” said Dr Pa , author of the study. .

Study: Walking 10,000 steps a day may reduce risk of early death in people with diabetes or prediabetes

Walking 10,000 steps a day can help you stay healthy overall, but for those who benefit, it can go even further for those with prediabetes and diabetes, according to a new study.

According to researchers from the University of Seville, Spain, who evaluated a group of American adults with prediabetes and diabetes using data, such a daily routine was best for reducing the risk of death from any cause for people who have trouble controlling their blood sugar. from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Survey. The results were published in Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetes Association.

Of the people who took part in the study, 1,194 adults had prediabetes and 493 had diabetes. Participants wore an accelerometer at the waist to count their steps. The researchers adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, smoking, alcohol, and use of prescribed diabetes medications. The group was tracked for nine years.

In a separate study published last year, researchers found that middle-aged adults who walked at least 7,000 steps a day, on average, were 50-70% less likely to die from any cause. over the next decade, compared to adults who took less action, according to findings published this month in JAMA Network Open.

“Being physically active provides substantial health benefits for many conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and several cancers, as well as improved quality of life,” the researchers point out in the study. “The number of steps people take each day is a meaningful metric for quantifying total daily activity.”

US physical activity guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, including brisk walking.

Keywords: diabetes management, exercise and fitness, high blood pressure, sleep disorders

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Richard V. Johnson