Slower Walking Speed May Be Harbinger of Mental Decline…

In this study, researchers followed 175 seniors with normal brain function for 14 years and found that those whose walking speed slowed during the course of the study also experienced shrinkage of the right hippocampus. This area of the brain not only affects spatial orientation, which may explain the slowed walking speed, but it also plays a role in forming long-term memories. The findings suggest that doctors should check older patients’ walking speed and watch for changes over time, since it may be an early indication of mental decline that warrants testing or preventative measures. —Neurology, June 2017

Quote of the Week

“Champions have the courage to keep turning the pages because they know a better chapter lies ahead.” Paula White

Food Safety When Packing for a Picnic

Picnicking can be a lot of fun, but nothing can ruin your outdoor meal faster than a case of food poisoning. To reduce your risk, the United States Department of Health & Human Services suggests: packing any meat, seafood, poultry, sandwiches, summer salads, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products in a cold cooler; fill the cooler with ice to help it stay colder longer; and store it in a shady spot. —Department of Health & Human Services, June 2017

Spondylolysis Associated with Degenerative Joints in the Spine

Spondylolysis is defined as a defect or stress fracture in the pars interarticularis of the vertebral arch. While the cause of spondylolysis is unknown, many factors are thought to contribute to its development. A recent study set out to determine the effects of this condition on the facet joints in the lumbar spine, which help make it possible to flex, twist, and bend. Researchers evaluated the radiographs of 107 patients with L5 spondylolysis and compared them with those of individuals without the condition and found that the patients with lumbar spondylolysis had more severe degenerative changes of the facet joints than those without spondylolysis. The findings suggest that individuals with spondylolysis are at a greater risk for developing degenerative joint issues in the lumbar spine. —Clinical Spine Surgery, July 2017

Elderly Adults Who Exercise More May Live Longer

Among a sample of 803 seniors participating in the Hispanic Established Population for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly, researchers found that those who increased their physical activity levels over a ten-year period had a 43% lower risk of death during the course of the study than participants whose activity levels declined or remained unchanged. —Journal of Physical Activity and Health, July 2017