Can exercise keep you mentally sharp as you get older? A study in Neurology concluded that as people get older those who exercise regularly experienced a slower rate of mental decline. In this study 876 people with an average age of 71 participated. Of those participants, 90% indicted that they are lightly active or not at all.
“Researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University found that people with no signs of cognitive impairment at the start of the research who reported low activity levels showed a greater decline in processing speed and episodic memory over five years. Their brains aged about 10 years more than the group that exercised.”
Exercise can not only decrease stress levels, but it has also been shown that exercise can increase gray matter of the brain. Gray matter contains the brain’s essential neuronal cell bodies. More importantly, the gray matter’s functions are muscle control, sensory perception (seeing and hearing), memory, emotions, speech, decision making and self-control.
The test also differentiated between activity levels. A leisurely walk or merely “getting your steps in” is not going to cut it to meet the definition of “active.” The person needs to exert physical energy to be considered active. Physical activities include: running, hiking, walking (at a brisk pace), elliptical machine, biking, rowing, swimming, etc.
In addition to exercise helping keep a person’s mind sharp as they age, physical activity can also play a role in helping lower the risk of developing diabetes later in life, according to some researchers.
As with any type of exercise program, be sure to speak with your medical doctor before starting. Your doctor can help you understand if your program is right for you based on your age and medical factors.
To read the article that was used in support of this post click HERE for more information.