11/03/2012 10:18 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2013

The Huff/Post50 'Yay! of the Day'

Enough already with the negative news. Instead of dwelling on the bad stuff (or Kim Kardashian), let's focus on a few things every day that will make us say 'Yay!' You know why? Because it's the little things in life that bring us joy. And, whoever said we're ever too old to say 'Yay!'? Not me. Try it. It's contagious.

Tell us what made you say 'Yay!' today and every week I'll post some of the best. Yay!

Here's the 'Yay! of the Day:'

A few studies came out this week that underscored the importance of physical activity and drinking coffee to reduce the risk of dementia. Here's the scoop:

The research, as reported in the most recent issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, explained that those who had a history of stroke or showed signs (on MRI) of changes in white matter on their brains still benefitted from exercise. The good news is that even just 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week had a dramatic impact.

What should you do with this information? Get out there and move your body, and if you haven't engaged in a regular exercise program in a while (like a lot of Post50 Americans) first get the green light from your doctor.

Some of the best exercises anyone can do, at any age and for the long haul include:

  • Walking -- Get yourself a pair of running/walking shoes and instead of strolling around your neighborhood, aim for taking an "intentional walk" every day (or at least every other day) for a minimum of 30 minutes. The goal is to get your heart pumping. An added benefit is you'll be burning more calories, too.
  • Running -- If you can walk, you can run, even if it's for just a minute or two. I started running when I turned 50 and followed the "run-walk-run" program created by former Olympian and marathoner, Jeff Galloway. It's simple: walk quickly for a few minutes, and then run slowly and gently for a minute or two (see how it feels and then you can gage how long you can run). Go back to walking again. Walk/run for at least 30 minutes, but as Jeff explained: "Go for distance, not speed. Try to do this every other day for a minimum of an hour for maximum benefits." It's a highly efficient and effective "interval" program that burns calories, pumps your heart, doesn't harm your joints (especially knees) and is something we can all do for the rest of our lives.
  • The Plank -- If we want to keep moving our bodies for the rest of our lives, we also should consider strengthening our bones and the muscles that support them. Walking and running definitely helps with our lower bodies, but the best exercise, by far, to keep our upper bodies and core strong, toned and lean is the Plank. Click here for a quick overview of what it is and how to do it.

According to a research report in the November issue of Journal of Nuclear Medicine, caffeine is a neuroactive agent found in coffee and tea, and if consumed regularly (three to five cups a day) binds with certain receptors found in the brain and protects against dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, and Parkinson's.

Many experts also suggest that having a cup of coffee (or more) before exercising gives you a better workout. Jeff Galloway explained it this way:

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that helps to get your mind and body up to speed from the beginning of a run, or walk. It promotes an early breakdown of body fat and has been shown to increase endurance capacity. I always have a few cups of coffee before I go for a run or long walk, or before I do any kind of exercise.

There are zillions of great reasons to say Yay to a cup of coffee and now we can add protection against dementia to the list.


Okay -- your turn.

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For more tips on living your best life after 50 visit Staying connected is a powerful tool! Keep me posted on how you're doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and "tweeting" me on Twitter at @BGrufferman. Check out my weekly columns on AARP and FOF, too.