If you are one of those people think who think of fitness for the older generation is perhaps a gentle stroll, or a spot of light gardening, then think again. It’s not just about keeping muscles supple and joints less stiff, or keeping the weight off. Recent studies suggest that vigorous exercise might reduce the risk of dementia by over 20%; even moderate exercise seems to provide cognitive protection too.
As you get older you might have certain physical limitations due to illness, injury or simply from getting older. However, each generation seems to be getting younger and younger as they get older, in terms of how active they are. Keeping going into your 70s might help keep your brain healthy too, according to a recent study.
Over 800 people aged 71 were asked several times about the amount of rigorous physical exercise they had done in the last year in one study. Three to seven years later the rate of diagnosis for dementia for those who exercised three or more time per week was found to be significantly lower. These exercise regulars were found to be over 20% less likely to have been diagnosed than their less active counterparts.
The study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, might not have looked at the fitness background of the participants but what it did find was that even where there were other health concerns, physical activity had a positive impact on cognitive abilities. The exercises included activities such as biking, running and sports.
It seems that you don’t have to be really pumping iron or going totally cardio for exercise to help your brain either. There’s no doubt that any form of working out keeps people of all ages in a healthy state of mind and studies suggest even moderate exercise is a good for your brain as you get older.
Another study, The Honolulu-Asia Study, looked at men between the ages of 71 and 93 in relation to walking and dementia. Neurological assessments were made three and six years later. The results of the study on over 2000 participants suggests that even walking a couple of miles a day can have a huge impact, with those who just walked less than a quarter of a mile having a 93% higher risk of dementia. If you translate walking into other forms of exercise then it would seem that moderate physical exertion could well affect the chances of developing this brain disorder too.
Of course, as with many studies, the results are open to question but a further recent study of over 16,000 women over the age of 70 also suggested that cognitive impairment is less likely to decline, which just adds to the wealth of data out there that urges older people to exercise their bodies to help their minds as well as their bodies.
If you want to find out how you can find the right fitness level to give yourself a real boost and keep you active then drop us a line.