National Health and Fitness Day (June 3rd) brings together people from all walks of life to celebrate the importance of leading a healthy and active lifestyle. This special day, observed annually, serves as a reminder of the power we hold to take charge of our well-being and make positive choices that benefit our physical and mental health.
In today’s blog, we will look at 3 articles centered around the building blocks of a healthy lifestyle: hydration, sleep and exercise. These key elements should be prioritized by all Canadians in the interest of living a happier life, especially as lifespans continue to lengthen.
Research published earlier this year shows that adults who stay well-hydrated develop fewer chronic conditions and live longer than others who consume less fluids. The study was conducted by researchers from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), aimed to investigate the relationship between hydration status and healthy aging.
The findings of the study revealed that good hydration was associated with healthier aging outcomes. Participants in the well-hydrated group had a lower risk of developing impairments in activities of daily living, such as difficulty with bathing or dressing, compared to those in the least hydrated group. Good hydration was also linked to a reduced risk of developing limitations in instrumental activities of daily living, such as difficulty with household chores or managing medications.
The researchers emphasized the need for further studies to understand the mechanisms underlying the relationship between hydration and healthy aging. They also suggested that healthcare providers should consider assessing and promoting hydration as part of routine preventive care for older adults.
Another study from earlier in 2023 explores the effects of wearing an eye mask during sleep on memory and alertness. The study involved participants who were randomly assigned to either wear an eye mask or not wear one during their sleep. The researchers focused on two main outcomes: memory encoding and daytime alertness.
The findings revealed that participants who wore an eye mask while sleeping showed improved memory encoding compared to those who did not wear one. Memory encoding refers to the process of converting information into memory traces. The eye mask group demonstrated better retention of information and had higher accuracy in recalling details compared to the non-eye mask group.
In addition to memory benefits, wearing an eye mask also had positive effects on daytime alertness. Participants who used an eye mask reported feeling more alert and less sleepy during the day compared to those who did not wear one. This suggests that wearing an eye mask during sleep may contribute to improved daytime cognitive functioning and reduced daytime sleepiness.
It is important to note that this study focused specifically on the effects of wearing an eye mask during sleep and did not explore other factors that could influence memory and alertness, such as sleep duration or sleep quality.
According to a study conducted at the University of Cambridge, a positive association may exist between regular exercise and enhanced cognitive function in older adults. The research aimed to explore the potential cognitive benefits of physical activity in this population.
The study involved a large sample of older adults who were divided into two groups: those who engaged in regular exercise and those who were more sedentary. The participants underwent cognitive assessments to measure various aspects of cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function.
The findings revealed that the group who regularly engaged in exercise demonstrated significantly better cognitive performance compared to the sedentary group. Specifically, the exercise group showed improvements in memory, attention, and executive function.
Furthermore, the study noted that the positive effects of exercise on cognitive function were not limited to a specific type of exercise. Both aerobic exercises, such as brisk walking or cycling, and strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, were associated with improved cognitive function.
The study emphasizes the potential of exercise as a non-pharmacological intervention to maintain and enhance cognitive function in older adults. Regular physical activity appears to play a crucial role in preserving cognitive abilities and may serve as a preventive measure against age-related cognitive decline.