Exercise May Decrease the Rate of Cognitive Decline in Older Age

A new research presented in the journal Neurology presents additional proof that exercise in older age may decrease the rate of cognitive decline.

Dr. Clinton B. Wright and colleagues identified that people over the age of 50 who engaged in light or no exercise experienced a considerably more rapidly decrease in memory and thinking skills, in comparison with those who involved in moderate to an intense workout.

This is not the first research to connect exercise in later life with superior cognitive skills. One more research reported in October 2015,  identified that regular aerobic exercise while in the middle and older age may help keep the brain healthy, guarding against behavioral deficits and age-related swelling in areas of the brain connected to memory and thinking.

It looks researches like these are in abundance, but scientists note that it is essential to understand how lifestyle aspects may assist slow cognitive decline, particularly with an aging population.

Commenting on their research Dr. Wright said,

“The number of individuals over the age of 65 in the USA is on the rise, which means the public health burden of thinking and memory issues will probably increase.”

“Our research revealed that for elderly people, exercising frequently may be protective, assisting them to maintain their cognitive capabilities longer.”

Better memory, thinking skills with moderate or intense workout

To reach their results, the team evaluated data of 876 people older than 50 and above – an average age of 71 – free of memory and thinking issues who were part of the Northern Manhattan Research.

As part of the research, individuals were questioned how frequently they had exercised in the past 2 weeks and how long they had exercised for.

About 90 percent of the individuals revealed engaging in either no exercise or light exercise – for example, yoga or walking – while the remaining 10 percent claimed they had engaged in moderate- or high-intensity workout, such as running or aerobic exercise.

About 7 years later, each individual went through brain imaging with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and took part in assessments of memory and thinking. These cognitive assessments were carried out once again 5 years later.

In comparison with individuals who involved in moderate- or high-intensity exercise, those who did mild or no exercise showed a decrease in memory and thinking abilities over a 5-year period that was comparable to 10 years of aging.

The study team states that this connection remained after accounting for a number of possibly confounding factors, such as alcohol intake, smoking status, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure.

Dr. Wright arrived at a conclusion that:

“Physical exercise is an attractive choice to decrease the burden of cognitive problems in public health due to the fact it is low cost and doesn’t conflict with medications.

Our outcomes recommend that moderate to intense workout may help older people delay aging of the brain, but more studies from randomized clinical studies comparing exercise programs to more sedentary activity is required to ensure these outcomes.”