Physical stress leads to cognitive decline later

Cognitive decline is no joke, many of us have someone in their life or know someone by extension who has or is dealing with someone with a mental illness in later life. Imagine for a moment not remembering the people you love? I’ve had some personal experience with someone in my family who had Alzheimer’s. It was devastating for the immediate family (it was my aunt) and it was just very sad.

I found a good article here about how physical stress can lead to cognitive decline.

From the article: “The research team studied 99 adults between the ages of 60 and 79 who were cognitively healthy – clear of psychiatric and neurologic illness, plus no history of stroke; transient ischemic attack, also known as a “mini-stroke”; or head trauma. By using brain images of the participants and an occupational survey about their most recent job, the researchers found that those who reported high levels of physical stress on the job had a smaller hippocampus – the region of the brain associated with memory – and performed worse on memory-related tasks. Examples of physically demanding work included excessive reaching or lifting of boxes onto shelves.”

No matter what job you do, sleep is critical !

Now this is by no means an extensive study but it still very telling. Those with “physical stress” had a smaller hippocampus. This can be associated with many jobs what we in the west traditionally call “blue collar” jobs. FedEx delivery, Coal Miners, Landscapers, Roofers on and on. The article talks about how stress accelerates the aging process, we knew that.

We now know through this limited study that physical stress can also accelerate the aging process. I don’t think this is a revelation to most but the association of physical stress at work to a decreased hippocampus later in life is very revealing. Some people work hard all their lives to enjoy retirement and a year or two in health problems start to appear.

Hard work is good for the soul, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and there is a certain satisfaction to it. When I was young I worked on my grandparent’s farm, we worked hard every day and by night fall I was out. The food tasted better, breaks were more enjoyable, and sleep was pure.

For those of you out there busting your hump in a physically demanding job make sure you are taking care of your body and mind. Adequate rest is critical and if you are “feeling it” get help ASAP. There is no shame in asking for help if you feel stress or anxiety.

You are doing awesome, one day at a time. 

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