A recent study indicates that older adults can keep their minds strong and disease-free by exercising regularly. Even as we age, physical activity remains a powerful tool with which we can not only stay physically fit, but mentally healthy as well.
Aerobic exercise—like biking, swimming, walking, and jogging—can actually strengthen your working memory, your attention, and your ability to switch between tasks.
The results from the study—performed at the University of Otago in New Zealand—indicated that older adults who are fitter perform better in mental tests than their less-fit peers. A regimen of aerobic exercise even helped people score better in the same tests than people who were regularly taking classes that focused on stretching and muscle toning (yoga and tai chi, for example).
These results support a growing opinion that exercising regularly boosts memory. Fitter older adults recorded better working memory (where they could retrieve things) in the study, as well as a greater volume of information they could retrieve it from in their minds. Exercise even led to task-specific benefits, such as driving (where attention and decision-making are critical). Such results were seen only with older adults, not young adults. That supports the idea that aerobic exercise helps those who are older the most, with positive effects on minds that are in danger of slipping.
These results can be seen as great news for many seniors, because aerobic exercise does not require any great commitment. It doesn’t require a trip to the gym. It can be as simple as being conscious of working in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. That can consist of swimming, biking, jogging, or even just walking (although the faster the walk, the more aerobic benefit you get).
Sources for Today’s Articles:
Exercise the Best Way to Stay Mentally Fit
Guiney, H., and Machado, L., “Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations,” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 2012; DOI: 10.3758/s13423-012-0345-4.