As I stated in my last blog, Americans are living longer and I gave tips on activities that may contribute to helping us age successfully. Today I will talk about the connection between physical exercise and cognitive health.
Most experts agree that exercise plays an important role in maintaining good physical health, but surprisingly, it also has been shown to have positive effects on cognitive ability. According to several sources including the NIH Senior Health site and research done at the Aging, Mobility, and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab of British Columbia there is a positive correlation between exercise and cognitive function. Researchers in British Columbia found that not only aerobic exercise but resistance training had long term positive impacts on cognition. A study in 2010 printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association also stated that any frequency of moderate exercise performed in midlife or late life was associated with reduced odds of having cognitive decline. So what does this mean? Exercise not only benefits our physical body by increasing strength, flexibility and balance it also benefits our cognitive functioning helping to keep us sharper as we age. And one more added bonus: Exercise has been linked to fewer incidences of depression and an increase in positive mood as well as a great way to manage stress. Exercise is a win-win activity!
Some fun ideas:
- Join a walking club
- Check out your local senior centers or YMCAs for special programs like Silver Sneakers, designed with seniors in mind
- Babysit the grandkids
- Walk pets
- Mall walking
- Take line dancing lessons
- Check out Go4Life at: https://go4life.nia.nih.gov/exercises for more ideas to help improve endurance, strength, balance and flexibility
Of course, you should always make sure you check first with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Remember, what’s good for the body is good for the mind. Start today to be more active.
By Melanie Cahill, MS, CCC-SLP
- Best, Chiu, Liang Hsu, Nagamatsu, & Liu-Ambrose “Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial.” J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.
- NIH Senior Health web site: https://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseforolderadults/healthbenefits/01.html
- Rowe, J & Kahn, R. Successful Aging Pantheon Books: New York, 1998.
- Silver Sneakers: https://www.silversneakers.com/
- Yonas E. Geda, MD, MSc; Rosebud O. Roberts, MBChB, MS; David S. Knopman, MD; Teresa J. H. Christianson, BSc; V. Shane Pankratz, PhD; Robert J. Ivnik, PhD; Bradley F. Boeve, MD; Eric G. Tangalos, MD; Ronald C. Petersen, MD, PhD; Walter A. Rocca, MD, MPH “Physical Exercise, Aging, and Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Population-Based Study”JAMA Neurology, January 2010