It is well-known that exercise is good for you. While most may believe the benefits are mostly physical, recent studies have revealed that senior fitness can do more than give you strong muscles or a shapely figure. In fact, it may be a critical part of healthy aging, improved brain function and good memory. This discovery could have significant impact for seniors, who may care more about staying sharp than they do about social security and physical well-being.
According to a recent study by the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas, memory can be improved and restored by doing just one hour of exercise three times per week. For senior memory care, the latest findings could be seen as a call to get moving.
"Science has shown that aging decreases mental efficiency, and memory decline is the No. 1 cognitive complaint of older adults," said Sandra Chapman, the Center for BrainHealth's founder and chief director and lead author of the report. "This research shows the tremendous benefit of aerobic exercise on a person's memory and demonstrates that aerobic exercise can reduce both the biological and cognitive consequences of aging."
The study examined two different groups of seniors between the ages of 57 and 75 for 12 weeks. They were divided by those who were sedentary and those who did aerobic exercise three times per week for one hour. Unsurprisingly, those in the exercise group had better brain flow and improved memory. In addition, they showed better blood flow in the part of the brain that is affected by Alzheimer's disease, meaning that exercise can reduce your risk of the illness.
As one of the best ways to stay healthy later in life, exercise is also extremely cost efficient with few or no side effects. The Center for BrainHealth stated that physical exercise is more effective toward improving blood flow and restoring memory when it is coupled with mental exercises.
The short term of the study proves that exercise can be taken up at any time and have quick benefits to the body and brain. Seniors who are new to an exercise routine should consult with a doctor to make sure they are healthy enough for aerobic activity but should not otherwise delay to get moving. Once your doctor approves you for exercise, find an activity that you enjoy doing. Whether it's group classes, going for long walks with a friend or hitting the gym by yourself, there are numerous ways to get in a workout without getting bored.
One of the most important factors in the study was the amount of time participants exercised. Health benefits and improvements in brain flow were seen when seniors were exercising for one hour, three times per week, equaling out to 180 minutes per week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends seniors get a little less per week, averaging 150 minutes per week. This time can be broken up into shorter workouts throughout the week or in one-hour spurts like the UT study. Getting in this much aerobic exercise each week is crucial for senior memory care and mental health.