Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory and Thinking
Based on recent data, it’s very likely you or someone you love has experienced a loved one struggling with dementia. Dementia is the term for any condition involving an impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities. Right now, the CDC estimates that of those at least 65 years of age, there are over 5.0 million adults with dementia. This number is projected to be nearly 14 million by 2060. The good news is a recent study suggests that there may be a very simple way to hold onto clear thinking – physical activity!
In Colombia, South America, researchers studied the physical activity and cognitive function of over 4,000 participants over the age of 60. Right now, there is lots of research to suggest physical activity is good for overall health. However, this study focused on how physical activity could help aging adults strengthen memory and clear thinking.
To do this, researchers measured participants’ hand strength and walking speed in relationship to their cognitive test results. Surprisingly, older adults with lower handgrip strength were more likely to struggle to think clearly than older adults with healthy handgrip strength. Similarly, older adults who had a slower gait when walking were more likely to have mild cognitive impairment.
In other words, physical activity impacts our long term mental fitness. Those who were more physically fit actually had a decreased likelihood of cognitive impairment as they aged. Being fit may actually keep people from experiencing cognitive deterioration during the aging process. As we’ve written about previously, physical activity is about way more than weight loss. As this study suggests, it can even protect aging adults from the likelihood of debilitating cognitive confusion.
Need an easy way to get started adding physical activity into your day? Check out age specific physical activity resources here.
Center For Disease And Prevention