A new study has shown that physical activity has a great impact on brain health. The study, which was published last week in Neurology, an online medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, came to the conclusion that older adults who do not exercise at all or only take part in light exercise experienced a cognitive decline. This decline is equal to 10 years of aging. Older adults who are intense and/or moderate exercisers did not face this cognitive decline.
Dr. Clinton B. Wright, author of this study and who also works at the University of Miami, examined the health of approximately 900 older adults with an average age of 71. 90 percent of the participants reported that they either do not exercise at all or exercise lightly, while the other 10 percent reported moderate to heavy exercise. Wright and his team asked participants about the duration and frequency of their physical activity (exercise) routine. About seven years later, each participant took memory and thinking skills tests. They also received a brain MRI. Five years later, these tests were repeated.
The research team found that people who exercise moderately and/or heavily have a reduced risk of memory loss and said that seniors should try to move around as much as they can. Dr. Wright stated that “the number of people over the age of 65 in the United States is on the rise, meaning the public health burden of thinking and memory problems will likely grow.” Wright went on to add that getting regular exercise is a great protective measure for keeping cognitive abilities.
It is important to note that other factors that affect brain health and promote cognitive decline are smoking, alcohol use, high blood pressure, and BMI.