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Jaakko Kaprio and Seppo Sarna

Occupational disability was investigated in former Finnish athletes in the Olympic Games, World or European championships, or intercountry competitions during 1920–1965 (N = 2,402 men) for eight selected sports. The referents were 1,712 men selected from the Finnish conscription register, matched on age and area of residence and classified as completely healthy. The first outcome measure was the length of working life based on the age when the subject was granted a disability pension, or age at death before age 65. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of mean working life expectancy was 61.4 years for endurance sport athletes, 60.0 years for team games athletes, and 59.2 years for power sport competitors, compared with 57.6 years for the reference group. Decreased coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular and respiratory morbidity were observed for all athletes when compared with the referent group. It was concluded that sustained and vigorous physical activity during early adulthood may extend the occupationally active life span and defer the onset of disability before retirement age.

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Milla Saajanaho, Anne Viljanen, Sanna Read, Merja Rantakokko, Li-Tang Tsai, Jaakko Kaprio, Marja Jylhä and Taina Rantanen

This study investigated the associations of personal goals with exercise activity, as well as the relationships between exercise-related and other personal goals, among older women. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs were used with a sample of 308 women ages 66–79 at baseline. Women who reported exercise-related personal goals were 4 times as likely to report high exercise activity at baseline than those who did not report exercise-related goals. Longitudinal results were parallel. Goals related to cultural activities, as well as to busying oneself around the home, coincided with exercise-related goals, whereas goals related to own and other people’s health and independent living lowered the odds of having exercise-related goals. Helping older adults to set realistic exercise-related goals that are compatible with their other life goals may yield an increase in their exercise activity, but this should be evaluated in a controlled trial.

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Ina M. Tarkka, Pekka Hautasaari, Heidi Pesonen, Eini Niskanen, Mirva Rottensteiner, Jaakko Kaprio, Andrej M. Savić and Urho M. Kujala

Background: Physical activity (PA) is said to be beneficial to many bodily functions. However, the effects of PA in the brain are still inadequately known. The authors aimed to uncover possible brain modulation linked with PA. Here, they combine 4 of their studies with monozygotic twins, who were within-pair discordant in PA for a minimum of 1 year. Methods: The authors performed brain imaging, brain electrophysiology, and cardiovascular and body composition assessments, and collected questionnaire-based data. The present synopsis elucidates the differences associated with differing PA history in conditions without genetic variability. They present new structural and electrophysiological results. Participants, healthy, 45 male monozygotic twins (mean age 34.5 [1.5] y) differed in aerobic capacity and fat percentage (P < .001). Results: More active co-twins showed larger gray matter volumes in striatal, prefrontal, and hippocampal regions, and smaller gray matter volumes in the anterior cingulate area than less active co-twins. Functionally, visual and somatosensory automatic change detection processes differed between more and less active co-twins. Conclusions: In monozygotic twins, who differed in their PA history, differences were observed in identifiable anatomic brain locations involved with motor control and memory functions, as well as in electrophysiological measures detecting brain’s automatic processes. Better aerobic capacity may modify brain morphology and sensory function.