A few interesting studies have crossed our computer screens recently that shed light on living a long, happy, productive life.
Walking speed as an indicator of longevity
A new study appearing today in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds evidence that walking speed is a useful predictor of how long older adults may live. According the MSNBC’s HealthNews Daily:
Those who walked 1 meter per second (about 2.25 mph) or faster consistently lived longer than others of their age and sex who walked more slowly, the study showed.
The article is quick to point out that you shouldn’t suddenly start walking faster in order to prolong life. You need to address the underlying issues that cause you to have a slower gait. However, doctors can use information about walking speed to gauge their patients’ health.
Dental health and mental health
US News and World Reports’ HealthDay has an article on a study in Japan that attempted to find a correlation between a person’s dental health and psychiatric condition. 4,000 participants aged 65 and older were given exams in both areas:
Compared with participants who still had many of their natural teeth, those with fewer or no teeth were much more likely to have experienced some memory loss or have early-stage Alzheimer’s disease.
The researcher theorized that tooth infections may cause inflammatory substances to be released that damage the brain.
The American Dental Hygienists Association has a good page on proper tooth brushing technique.
Bright lights, big changes
WebMD reported on a study of older adults with depression that looked at the effects of light therapy on the participants’ mental state. One group of participants were exposed to an hour of bright, pale blue light in the early morning while the control group received an hour of dim red light.
In the short term, the bright light group showed slightly more improvement in their depression symptoms (43% versus 36%), though both groups had positive reactions. However, three weeks after the treatment ended, there was a much larger gap: 54% to 33%.