Busy Bodies—Sharp Minds
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If you want to stay healthy, you’ve got to remain active. No one is exempt from the need for exercise. Not even elderly folks. Of course, regular physical activity helps keep the body healthy and fit, but it’s nearly as important for keeping the mind sharp, too. And it doesn’t really matter what you do—as long as you’re moving.
At least that’s the conclusion of researchers at the Université de Montréal. They studied older people, aged 62 to 84 years of age, to determine if different types of training methods would have different effects on “cognitive functioning,” or the ability to perceive, think, reason, remember, and form new ideas. The investigators thought that perhaps aerobically-intense workouts were better for the brain than pure strength training, or training that involved less-intense movements involving coordination, balance, ball games, locomotive tasks, and flexibility.
Only the first two forms of exercise yielded physical fitness improvements after 10 weeks, as measured by increased strength, aerobic capacity and body composition improvements. But all three forms of movement increased cognitive performance.
"For a long time, it was believed that only aerobic exercise could improve executive functions. More recently, science has shown that strength-training also leads to positive results. Our new findings suggest that structured activities that aim to improve gross motor skills can also improve executive functions, which decline as we age. I would like seniors to remember that they have the power to improve their physical and cognitive health at any age and that they have many avenues to reach this goal," concluded Dr. Nicolas Berryman, PhD, in a press release.
So, once again, science has demonstrated what I’ve been saying all along: Some things may be out of your control, but for the most part, your health is in your own hands. Move it or lose it!
Nicolas Berryman, Louis Bherer, Sylvie Nadeau, Séléna Lauzière, Lora Lehr, Florian Bobeuf, Maxime Lussier, Marie Jeanne Kergoat, Thien Tuong Minh Vu, Laurent Bosquet. Multiple roads lead to Rome: combined high-intensity aerobic and strength training vs. gross motor activities leads to equivalent improvement in executive functions in a cohort of healthy older adults. AGE, 2014; 36 (5) DOI: 10.1007/s11357-014-9710-8