What Your Gait Says About You

Life can run at a very fast pace. With everyone always rushing to get ahead of everyone else, sometimes, slowing down a little can be a welcome change. As we age, we start to mature and let the little things go. We start to smell the flowers, relax, take some time out for the small things, resulting in what many feel to be the prime of our lives. However, sometimes going too slow can be a warning sign. Recent research reveals that there may be a link between slowing gait and early onset dementia. Read on to find out what researchers are saying that may help you prepare for early detection.

Study Revelations
A study published in Neurology suggests that walking speed may be connected to an onset of cognitive decline in older adults. Findings showed that participants who slowed down by 0.1 seconds or more annually were at a 47 percent greater risk for cognitive impairment as compared to their peers who did not show any signs of slowing. In addition, brain analysis of those with slower gaits revealed a shrinkage in the right hippocampus, the region associated with memory and complex learning.

The recent study was conducted using a stopwatch. One hundred and seventy-five adults between the ages of 70 and 79 were instructed to walk down and 18-foot long hallway while their walking speeds were measured. Participants demonstrated good mental health and had normal brain scan results at the beginning of the study. Walking speed was assessed over the course of 14 years, after which the participants underwent brain scans and tests for mental acuity.

Professor Andrea Russo at the University of Pittsburgh warns that although the reduction in speed is small, it may become a problem over time. “A fraction of a second is subtle, ” she says,”but over 14 years, or even less, you would notice.”

Other Findings
Even when researchers took such things into account as knee pain, muscle weakness, and certain diseases, the revelations held true. While admitting a slower pace is not a sufficient means of diagnosing a cognitive decline, researchers say it may be valuable in detecting early detection of mental issues, which can result in early preventative treatment.

This is not the first instance of evidence suggesting walking speed is connected with the development of dementia. A 2013 study published in Neurology revealed similar findings. This study involved 93 adults, aged 70 and over, 54 of whom had no signs of cognitive impairment, 31 of whom had nonmemory related brain decline, and 8 with memory loss related decline. Results indicated that the slower walker was nine times more likely to be affected by nonmemory related cognitive issues that fast or moderate walkers.

The Breakdown
These studies can provide insight into how walking speed can help predict cognitive impairment in older adults so they can focus on early treatment and prevention to prevent the disease from progressing.

Have you observed changes in the walking speed of yourself or a loved one? Have you sought a doctor’s advice? Let us know how detection leads to your early prevention of cognitive decline.

Woman relaxing in a suana

The Health Benefits of Hot and Dry Heat

You have just finished working out at the gym and you feel like crawling home.  It must have been somewhere between the 50th and 51st set of squats when your muscles just gave out.  Your legs feel like jello.    You decide that some relief is definitely in order if you have any chance of getting to your car and driving home without  requiring medical attention.  You spot the sauna. “This is just the thing,” you think.  I will sit in here, let my muscles relax  a little and I will feel like a new person!” Then you spot the steam room.  Could this be a better option?  You try and think.  What have you heard about them?  You can’t remember which one is which and think that in your condition it may just be a matter of which one is closer.  Well, just so you are prepared for when this happens to you, here’s the breakdown.

The basic difference between saunas and steam baths is that steam baths use moist heat, while saunas offer dry heat.  Both are hot baths which stimulate blood flow, easing pain and promoting healthy metabolism.

The Heat Factor
Saunas are a good deal hotter than steam rooms with the set temperature at somewhere between 160 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and a humidity level between 5 and 30%  In other words, it’s a dry heat.  Steam rooms measure somewhere between 110 and 120 degrees but the 100% humidity will make it feel much higher.  Heat rises in both saunas and steam rooms, so the higher you sit, the hotter you will be. Wet and dry heat have a sedative effect which can provide relaxation to those suffering emotional disorder and pain relief to those suffering from a muscular injury.

The Bare Bones
Have you ever gotten on a slide in the hot weather as a child? Perhaps, then you understand why saunas are built of wood and not metal.  In addition, wood absorbs moisture, keeping surfaces cooler and pulling humidity from the air.  In steam rooms, high humidity would cause wood to deteriorate and are therefore made of tile or plastic.  They feature sloped ceilings which allow the water to run down the wall rather than drip on your head.

The Relaxation Factor
Both steam rooms and sauna reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation. They improve circulation and cause occupants to perspire, opening the pores and cleansing the skin,  The humidity of the steam rooms may be more comfortable for people suffering from allergies and congestion, whereas those with conditions that may be aggravated by humidity, like arthritis, may opt for the sauna.

The Expectoration Factor
One advantage that a steam room may have over a sauna is the expectorant effect.  Wet heat opens the sinuses throat and lungs and can loosen and clear the mucus in your nose, chest, and throat.  However, it can also aggravate asthma, which would make a sauna a better choice for asthmatics.

The Myth
You may have heard that both of these baths may remove toxins from the body and help you lose weight.  There is no evidence to support that either removes any toxic chemicals from your body and any weight loss will be temporary, resulting from water weight lost from sweating, so hanging out in the sauna or steam room will not make you svelte, which is why you still have the gym.

So which way do you stagger?  To the dry or to the wet?  The choice is yours, just pick one soon!