Lifelong Exercise Keeps the Brain Working
A recent study has shown that people who exercise throughout their life have improved brain function later in life.
Those people who engaged in regular intense activity (such as playing a sport, swimming, running or working out in a gym) since childhood performed better in mental tests at the age of 50.
More than 9,000 people took part in the study from the age of 11.
At regular age intervals, interviews were conducted to monitor each individual' level of exercise. The participants also took part in tests involving learning, attention and memory.
The research found the people who had exercised two or three times or more per month from the age of 11 scored higher in the tests than those who did not exercise as much.
Dr. Alex Dregan from King's College in London was the study leader. He states, "As exercise represents a key component of lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, public health interventions to promote lifelong exercise have the potential to reduce the personal and social burden associated with these condtions in late adult years."
The findings were published on March 12, 2013 in the journal Psychological Medicine.
Government guidelines call for adults between the ages of 19 and 64 to partake in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Dr. Dregan states, "It's widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind." However, it is also accepted that not everyone is able or willing to perform that amount of physical activity. For such people, any amount of exercise could aid in their long-term cognitive well-being.
"Setting lower exercise targets at the beginning and gradually increasing their frequency and intensity could be a more effective method for improving levels of exercise within the wider population," continues Dr. Dregan.
However, intense exercise appeared to accomplish greater benefits for the brain than moderate exercise.
Dr. Dregan calls for further clinical trials to explore the benefits of exercise for older adults, but also wants the effects of exercise with varying levels of intensity and frequency to be studied.
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