Exercising protects your brain as you get older, says a study published in Neurology.
The benefits of exercise have been extensively documented by researchers, and the particular advantages it confers on the brain have also been highlighted in the past. A new study adds further to the growing evidence of the salubrity of physical activity, arguing that it helps to preserve cognition.
The participants of the study had an average age of 71. They were to report how much of exercise they adhered to in the past two weeks.. The results show that those reporting light or no physical activity (90% of the total number of participants) went through cognitive decline equivalent to 10 additional years of ageing as opposed to those who engaged in moderate and intense exercise (from running to aerobics and calisthenics). Furthermore, the participants had their memory and thinking abilities evaluated 5 years later when they also had a brain MRI done.
The findings show that of the group that displayed no signs of memory and thinking problems at the first tests, those who claimed light or no exercise had undergone a greater decline over the period of 5 years than those who had reported high activity levels. On the other hand, those who would exercise moderately or heavily had a lower risk of developing problems like memory loss and reduced executive function, values equivalent to around 10 years of ageing.
The researchers concluded that moderate to intense exercise might help delay brain ageing in old people.
The result is particularly relevant in today’s context which is characterised by a sharp increase in the age group consisting of those beyond 65 years of age, implying a greater number of memory and other cognition problems, says study author Dr Clinton B. Wright from the University of Miami.
Therefore, the authors recommend that the elderly indulge in more physical activity since the latter appears to lighten the “burden of cognitive impairment” on society.