Most of us know that getting regular exercise can help stave off various health concerns and keep our weight low. As we age, it can become harder to get regular physical activity due to pre-existing conditions. But a new study has shown that physical activity can improve both body and mind, even in senior citizens who may have more limited mobility and suffer from memory conditions.
This report is good news for many seniors who want to stay young and vital. Around 55% of all respondents in a Genworth Financial study reported that they feared a long-term care illness would be a burden on their families. In fact, respondents were five times more concerned about being a burden than they were about dying.
Staying active both physically and mentally has been shown to keep seniors healthier and sharper — thus eliminating or reducing the need for extensive care or familial burden.
The recent study examined a group of 70 seniors with an average age of 74. All study participants had some sort of mild vascular cognitive impairment. Half of the participants attended hour-long exercise classes three times a week. The study, published in Neurology, showed that the participants in the exercise group all showed small improvements in overall thinking skills after exercising for six months. They also showed an improvement in blood pressure and in walking distances. The participants were tested a total of three times on their thinking skills, executive function skills, and ability to complete daily tasks, to ensure the legitimacy of the results.
The fact that the participants still showed improvement six months after the completion of the study shows promise. Although many studies have already looked at how exercise can reduce the risk of developing memory problems, this particular study is one of the few that has examined whether exercise can help those who already have them. Although the idea needs further study, it certainly shows promise for those who want to remain active into old age.