Kelley D. Hamilton of Bonaventure Senior Living Says the Brain Can Be Trained

Kelley D. Hamilton BonaventureKelley D. Hamilton is CEO of Bonaventure Senior Living.  This network of full service retirement, assisted living, and memory care communities caters to older adults who want to remain active and independent but don’t want the worries that come with living alone.  Today, Kelley D. Hamilton of Bonaventure explains why his company encourages seniors to stay active.

Community Blog: Why is being active more important as you age?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Regular exercise not only boosts energy and helps you maintain your independence, but it helps most seniors manage pain, memory loss, and other age-related problems.

Community Blog: Aside from physical benefits, are there other positive effects?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Absolutely.  Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly typically report being happier more often than those who don’t, and usually have better memories.

Community Blog: Isn’t exercising difficult for seniors?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: While many seniors may feel discouraged by illnesses, such as diabetes or osteoporosis, there are a variety of exercises possible.

Community Blog: Tell us about the mental benefits of exercise.

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: I’ll start with the most obvious: sleep. Those who exercise regularly tend to sleep better and feel more rested when they wake up.

Community Blog: But insomnia is related to aging, isn’t it?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Everyone goes through bouts of sleeplessness, but insomnia is not normally associated as part of the aging process.

Community Blog: So why do many older Americans report trouble sleeping?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Often, sleep issues come from other physical ailments including heartburn, the inability to get comfortable, stress, or any number of factors.

Community Blog: So how does exercise directly affect sleep?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Exercising burns calories, stretches your muscles, and helps the body release tension which in turn allows you to fall asleep faster and stay in the deeper stages of sleep for longer periods of time.

Community Blog: Can exercise really affect mood?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: For sure.  When you exercise, your body produces endorphins that are a built-in defense mechanism against depression.

Community Blog: That must do a lot for self-esteem, no?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Yes, it certainly can. When you feel good you tend to view yourself in a more positive light, and for many people sticking to a regular exercise routine is a goal.  It always feels great to meet your goals.

Community Blog: Exercise in relation to brain function has been a hot topic on the news over the last few years. Can you elaborate?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Seniors who exercise tend to have less brain-related disorders than those who don’t.

Community Blog: You mean dementia or Alzheimer’s?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Exercise can definitely help people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s slow the process down. Exercise can also help prevent or delay memory issues for people who begin taking care of themselves before the onset of memory-related disorders.

Community Blog: What kind of exercise is recommended for people who may be experiencing frequent “senior moments”?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: A University of Pittsburgh study indicates that mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise can have a major positive impact on the brain.

Community Blog: Like walking?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Yes, the study observed 120 individuals over age 65 for a year. Half of them were asked to walk regularly; the others were introduced to a stretching and muscle-toning program.

Community Blog: And those who walked showed better results?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Those who walked actually enlarged their hippocampus, the portion of the brain responsible for memory and many other intellectual functions. This study is not the only of its kind.

Community Blog: Interesting.  Can you tell us about any of the other studies?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: A study conducted in Japan followed adults between 65 and 93 years old. The seniors were split into two groups and followed for over a year. One group was assigned regular exercise; the other was not.

Community Blog: And those who didn’t exercise didn’t fare very well where memory is concerned?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: No, in fact, only those who exercised showed any results.

Community Blog: Such as?

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: As in the previous study, the active seniors had fewer memory problems. In this study, however, the seniors who were not sedentary were also shown to have better verbal skills.

Community Blog: It sounds like exercise is good for both the body and the mind.

Kelley D. Hamilton, Bonaventure Senior Living: Absolutely, and as these studies show the brain does not stop reacting as it ages, which is good news for older adults who may be concerned about aging.  Growing older isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It’s always good to enjoy every stage of your life, and staying healthy is one of the keys to living life to the fullest.

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