Science and Medicine

Moderate to Intense Exercise May Protect Brain

Moderate to Intense Exercise May Protect Brain

Older people who regularly exercise at a moderate to intense level may be less likely to develop the small brain lesions, sometimes referred to as “silent strokes,” that are the first sign of cerebrovascular disease, according to a new study published in the June 8, 2011, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

“These ‘silent strokes’ are more significant than the name implies, because they have been associated with an increased risk of falls and impaired mobility, memory problems and even dementia, as well as stroke,” said study author Joshua Z. Willey, MD, MS, of Columbia University in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Encouraging older people to take part in moderate to intense exercise may be an important strategy for keeping their brains healthy.”

The study involved 1,238 people who had never had a stroke. Participants completed a questionnaire about how often and how intensely they exercised at the beginning of the study and then had MRI scans of their brains an average of six years later, when they were an average of 70 years old.

A total of 43 percent of the participants reported that they had no regular exercise; 36 percent engaged in regular light exercise, such as golf, walking, bowling or dancing; and 21 percent engaged in regular moderate to intense exercise, such as hiking, tennis, swimming, biking, jogging or racquetball.

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Even Ancient Men Seemed to Like Their Man Caves

The concept of the “man cave” has been entrenched in the human lineage for far longer than thought, according to new research that analyzed teeth from early humans to determine their geographic movement.

Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder found that males of two hominid species that roamed the South African savanna more than a million years ago stayed close to home—which often included caves—while females tended to move away.

The study, published in the June 2 issue of the journal Nature, suggests that fossils can reveal clues to early humans’ social and gender-related behavior, said Jeffrey Laitman, director of the Center for Anatomy and Functional Morphology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

“This is strong and beautiful science,” Laitman said. “It at least is giving us a glimpse that some of the behaviors we see today have roots going into the past. It may well be in our lineage that [males] liked their man caves.”

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Tornado kills at least 89 in SW Missouri city

“I don’t know the extent of this yet, but I know I’ll have friends and family dead.”

JOPLIN, Mo.—A massive tornado that tore a six-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 89 people as it smashed the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars like soda cans and leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entire neighborhoods once stood.

Authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search-and-rescue workers continued their efforts. Their task was made more miserable by a new thunderstorm that brought strong winds, heavy rain and hail.

City Manager Mark Rohr announced the number of known dead at a pre-dawn news conference outside the remains of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday’s storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path more than a half-mile wide through the center of town. Much of the city’s south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 165 mph.

Jasper County Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer said about 2,000 buildings were damaged. Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles estimated the damage covered a quarter or more of the city of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City. He said his home was among those destroyed.

An unknown number of people were injured, and officials said patients were sent to any nearby hospitals that could take them.

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