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Regular Exercise Could Be Key to "Younger Brains"

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018   

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Researchers have found yet another reason to add exercise to your New Year's resolutions - particularly for seniors.

A report published this year in the journal Neurology examined multiple studies linking regular exercise to better cognitive skills in older adults at risk for dementia.

In a six-month period, participants who did 35 minutes of aerobic exercise daily showed significant improvement in planning, problem-solving and decision-making.

AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly thinks it should encourage people of all ages to stick to their fitness resolutions.

"New Year's resolutions are great. I think the trick is to not set yourself up for failure,” Kelly said. “I also think the more normal you can make that routine, and the simpler, the longer you're going to be able to do it."

Getting healthy is at the top of the New Year's resolution list, according to Google. But for older Tennesseeans, it could be key to preventing brain aging and keeping mild cognitive impairment - a precursor of dementia - at bay.

The study found just 52 hours of low-impact exercise throughout the year improved a person's cognitive test scores to the equivalent of reversing nearly nine years of aging - and that's with less than one hour of exercise per week.

While the benefits of being active outweigh the risks of living a sedentary lifestyle, over-exercising can also pose some dangers. Kelly said it doesn't have to be complicated.

"You can keep it simple. Plan ahead, know what your day is going to look like,” she said. “Try to add in some healthy meals if you know you're going to have a really unhealthy meal. Try to continue to drink water throughout the day, and as often as you can - and then, just move more than you moved yesterday."

Experts suggest that before seniors start any new fitness program, they check with their doctor to make sure they're aware of any limitations.

For more tips on being active and eating healthier, visit AARP.org.


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