Improving Brain Power in Seniors with Exercise

March 31, 2016
Improving Brain Power in Seniors with Exercise

An overwhelming body of research has shown that exercise can help ward off a number of serious health problems. At least one recent study has also shown that it could help reverse symptoms of dementia in seniors. If you're worried about age-related cognitive decline, learn how to increase memory power through increased physical activity.
Exciting Results
According to researchers from the University of Maryland, a regular exercise program may protect aging brains or even reverse mental decline. Appearing in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, the study placed 34 inactive seniors on a fitness program, which included moderate-intensity walking four times a week for three months.
Not surprisingly, heart and lung health improved an average of eight percent for each subject. What's more, brain scans clearly showed increased thickness in each senior's cortex, the brain's outer layer that tends to shrink with Alzheimer's disease. Thickening occurred in both health participants and those with Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
What it Means
Many people believe it is too late to intervene once a senior begins showing symptoms of memory loss; however, this recent study suggests people may be able to reverse neurodegeneration through exercise. At the same time, younger adults may be able to slow or even prevent age-related cognitive decline by staying active.
Putting the Data to Use
For many people, busy schedules and physical limitations make exercise seem overwhelming. In reality, however, even mild exercise can have big impact on your overall health, when performed on a regular basis. If you're worried about cognitive decline or have begun experiencing memory problems, talk to your doctor about beginning a regular exercise routine. Some practical activities include:

  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Tennis
  • Dancing
  • Biking

If you suffer from heart disease, physical disabilities or any health problems that might make exercise risky, visit your physician for a thorough physical before beginning a fitness program. Even if rigorous exercise is beyond your abilities, your doctor can help you plan a reasonable and effective routine that can help stave off cognitive decline and improve your overall health.

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