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Exercise Boosts Cognitive Performance in Over-80s, New Study Reveals

Exercise Boosts Cognitive Performance in Over-80s, New Study Reveals

  • Riley James
In an era where the global population is living longer, maintaining cognitive function in our twilight years is a crucial concern. A recent study published in GeroScience, by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, has shed light on the positive impact of a combined regimen of aerobic exercise and strength training on cognitive performance in individuals aged 80 and above.

The study's findings emphasize the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle into old age. The research involved 184 cognitively healthy participants aged between 85 and 99 years, with an average age of 88.49 years, including 98 women. Participants were divided into three groups: sedentary individuals, those engaging in cardio exercise alone, and those practicing both cardio and strength training.

The cognitive performance of these participants was evaluated using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment battery of tests, which are designed to detect early signs of cognitive decline and dementia. The results were revealing: those who engaged in both cardio and strength training displayed superior cognitive performance compared to those who were either sedentary or only doing cardio exercises.

Participants who combined cardio and strength training demonstrated improved mental agility, faster thinking speed, and a superior ability to adjust their thought process as required. This group also scored significantly higher than the sedentary group in coding and symbol search tests and performed better than the cardio-only group in symbol search, letter fluency, and Stroop Color-Word tests.

Dr. Eric Lenze, a professor and chair of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research, highlighted the importance of such findings. He stated that even at an advanced age, aerobic and strength training can be beneficial. Regular physical activity like walking can help maintain function and independence, while strength training can enhance this benefit by helping seniors maintain their physical abilities.

Ryan Glatt, a brain health coach and director of the FitBrain Program at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, also not involved in the research, warned of the potential risks of a sedentary lifestyle. These include sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass), reduced physical functioning, an increased risk of falls and fractures, and cognitive impairment.

However, it's important to note that this study is cross-sectional and can only identify associations. It does not establish a causal link between cardio plus strength training and improved mental acuity. As Dr. Lenze pointed out, the results should be considered exploratory.

Still, both types of exercise are expected to improve overall brain health by improving insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and keeping people more active. Glatt suggested that different forms of exercise might impact different areas of the brain. For instance, resistance training might benefit the frontal lobe's function and structure, while aerobic exercise could benefit brain regions responsible for memory, like the hippocampus.

Aerobic exercises like walking, running, cycling, swimming, or using cardio equipment like rowing machines, elliptical trainers, treadmills, and stair climbers can improve heart health and lung function by increasing heart rate and oxygen consumption.

Strength training, on the other hand, involves causing your muscles to contract against an external resistance like weights, resistance bands, or medicine balls. The goal is to increase muscle mass and power, gain joint flexibility, and strengthen bones.

In conclusion, if you're shopping for fitness health clothing or looking to buy workout clothes from T-shoppe online fitness store, remember that incorporating both cardio and strength training into your routine can potentially improve cognitive performance in your later years. So, whether you're looking for active wear for fat loss or girls clothing to lose weight, remember that exercise is not just about physical health; it's also about maintaining a sharp mind as we age.