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Should I Stay Fit after 50?

Being physically fit after 50 will help improve your health as you age, but it can also benefit your body, mind and wallet in ways you might not realize. Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “7 Surprising Benefits of Staying Fit in Retirement” says that maintaining muscle health can also help improve energy levels, decrease the risk of fractures and speed up recovery from illnesses.

Her are some big potential benefits of staying in shape in your 50s (and well beyond that) you might not have considered. But visit your doctor for a checkup before beginning a fitness program and work your way into any exercise routine to avoid injuries.

  1. Thinking More Clearly. In addition to building muscles, exercise can help with brain function. Exercise can improve mood and sleep and decrease stress and anxiety. These can indirectly help with overall cognitive function.
  2. Spending Less On Medical Care. The average retiree household spends $6,800 a year on health care. However, with a regular exercise regimen, you can improve your health. That means you may be able to spend less time and money at the doctor’s office. The Mayo Clinic says regular exercise helps prevent or manage a wide range of health problems, such as stroke, high blood pressure, depression and cancer.
  3. Save On Life Insurance. If you stay fit, you may save money on life insurance because underwriters generally base policy costs on your risk of death. Overweight seniors will pay higher rates but maintaining a healthy weight and strong vital signs could reduce your premiums.
  4. Feel Happier. There’s a strong link between physical fitness and happiness. In addition to boosting your energy, exercise can elevate your mood. Physical activity stimulates brain chemicals that can make you feel more relaxed and less anxious. You may also feel better about your appearance, which can raise your self-esteem.
  5. Decrease Muscle And Bone Mass Loss. Regular strength training can help women to reduce the loss of bone and muscle mass that happens as they get older. This condition is more pronounced in women than men, since menopause accelerates this decline. Weight-based exercises are intended to thwart these conditions, which can impact a woman’s ability to perform daily activities.
  6. Keep Your Independence. According to the National Council on Aging, regular exercise can help older adults stay independent. Certain types of exercise, such as tai chi, can even reduce your risk of falls, which are the top cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors.
  7. Live longer. Aerobic fitness is a dynamic indicator of long-term mortality, and the more aerobic exercise you do, the greater the benefit. Three hours a week of regular exercise may potentially extend life by as much as five years. However, not exercising creates a risk of premature death that is equal to or worse than cardiovascular disease, diabetes or smoking, according to a large study published in 2018 in JAMA Network Open.

Reference: Money Talks News (December 25, 2020) “7 Surprising Benefits of Staying Fit in Retirement”

What’s the Criticism of the New Alzheimer’s Drug?

Three members of the FDA panel overseeing research have resigned since the approval this week, including Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who said in a letter the agency’s decision on Biogen “was probably the worst drug approval decision in recent U.S. history.”

CNBC’s article entitled “Biogen Alzheimer’s drug and the battle over dementia treatment of the future” reports that last November, in an 8-1 vote, that panel said Biogen’s late-stage study didn’t provide “strong evidence” showing that aducanumab effectively treated Alzheimer’s; two other panelists said that the data was “uncertain.”

While some experts see Aduhelm an “effective treatment” for a disease that affects millions of Americans, others have concerns about the FDA ruling’s implications for the panoply of other potential treatment options that are in late-stage development.

An immediate challenge facing other researchers working on a wider Alzheimer’s drug pipeline will be to keep participants in ongoing trials. In most cases, many Alzheimer’s sufferers will quit other drug studies to pursue treatment with the newly approved Aduhelm. This will make the trial data for those alternative drugs less useful, even though the drugs in question might one day prove safer, more effective, or more appropriate for different stages of the disease’s progression. Nonetheless, Aduhelm’s approval is seen by many as a big boost towards those efforts.

Some major drug companies stopped efforts to research brain diseases, including Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim in 2018. Biogen had given up on Aduhelm at one time in the clinical trials in 2019 before reversing its decision. This was after decades of failure in search of a breakthrough.

The National Institutes of Health spent two to three times more on heart disease and cancer research than on dementia in recent years, while a lack of qualified participants for clinical trials also slowed progress.

Aduhelm’s clinical trial data demonstrated that the drug successfully targets and clears out clusters of a specific type of protein that are thought to be responsible for Alzheimer’s. However, it gave insufficient evidence to prove the drug provides patients with cognitive benefits. Known among scientists as aducanumab, it works by offering an array of identical antibodies that are cloned from white blood cells. These antibodies are chosen for their targeting abilities, since they can identify specific proteins, called beta amyloids, that have constructed particular formations in the body. There’s extensive evidence suggesting that these beta amyloid formations, also known as “pathological aggregates” or “plaques,” are a major driver of Alzheimer’s disease, though the exact causal mechanisms are still not fully understood.

“What we’re going to find out from the use of this drug one way or the other, is whether or not the amyloid clearing hypothesis is correct,” says USC health economist Darius Lakdawalla, who argues the continued trialing of Biogen’s drug will prove useful to that confirmatory effort.

“If it is correct, then I think it opens the door for a lot of innovation, a lot of drug candidates that are going to try to clear amyloid in the future pursuit of that hypothesis.”

Reference: CNBC (June 12, 2021) “Biogen Alzheimer’s drug and the battle over dementia treatment of the future”

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