Regular moderate exercise is enough to slow brain ageing by the equivalent of ten years, new research finds.
The study followed 876 people over 65-years-old across more than 10 years.
They were given tests of memory and thinking skills along with brain scans.
Unfortunately, 90% of the people in the study reported that they did light or no exercise.
Light exercise included things like yoga and walking.
Moderate exercise included things like aerobic, callisthenics and running.
Dr Clinton B. Wright, one of the study’s authors, said:
“The number of people over the age of 65 in the United States is on the rise, meaning the public health burden of thinking and memory problems will likely grow.
Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer.”
After five years, those who were at least moderately active could remember more words from a list and could perform simple tasks more quickly.
Dr Wright said:
“Physical activity is an attractive option to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment in public health because it is low cost and doesn’t interfere with medications.
Our results suggest that moderate to intense exercise may help older people delay aging of the brain, but more research from randomized clinical trials comparing exercise programs to more sedentary activity is needed to confirm these results.”
The study was published in the journal Neurology (Willey et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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