Memory Loss Potentially Improves with Exercise
Countless studies have shown that exercise can reduce our risk for heart disease, cancer and other serious health problems. Now, new research suggests it may also improve memory in older people with minor cognitive decline.
According to a study out of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, exercise may be able to reverse age-related memory problems in certain situations. To reach their findings, researchers recruited 70 seniors who had “slight” memory and thinking problems and split them into two groups. While the first group took part in sixty-minute exercise classes, three times per week for six full months, the second group only received information about healthy diets and mental decline.
All subjects were tested before and after the study, with assessments focusing on executive function skills, overall cognition and the ability to carry out daily activities. At the end of the study, the subjects who exercised showed higher scores compared to participants who did not. What’s more, six months after the subjects stopped their exercise programs, they showed no difference from those who did not exercise.
What it Means
While the study appears to show that exercise might protect against mental decline, researchers were quick to point out that the improvements were relatively minimal. Still, the fitness program also offered other key benefits, including increased stamina and lower blood pressure. This latter benefit may be especially important, since high blood pressure has been linked to mental decline.
Ultimately, while it may not be a silver bullet for restoring cognition, exercise does offer compelling preventative benefits, especially when people sustain regular workout routines beginning at an early age.
Things to Consider
While exercise can provide big benefits to people at any age, older people should use caution when adopting a new fitness routine. Before beginning a workout regimen, visit your physician for a complete physical examination to check for any existing health conditions which might make exercising dangerous.