The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry has published a study on the impact of physical activity in adulthood on brain health later in life. Although physical activity at any age helps to better brain function, maintaining an exercise routine throughout adulthood seems to be best for preserving mental acuity and memory.
According to this study, physical activity could be modestly associated with:
1 | Lower risks of dementia.
2 | Reduced cognitive decline.
3 | Less loss of later life mental acuity.
Physical Activity And Brain Health: The Science Behind It
In order to show the connection, researchers analysed the strength of associations between cognitive tests at age 69 and reported leisure-time physical activity at ages 36, 43, 53, 60-64 and 69. The study involved 1,417 people (53% women) from the 1946 British birth cohort.
These tests analysed:
● Cognitive performance, including:
1 | Attention and orientation.
2 | Verbal fluency.
3 | Memory.
4 | Language.
5 | Visuospatial function.
● Verbal memory, assessed by a word learning test.
● Processing speed – or, in other words, visual search speed.
The Relationship Explored
Data showed that staying active in the 5 life stages analysed was the option that most enhanced these mentioned abilities. In other words, assessments demonstrated that exercising during adulthood strongly reinforced higher cognition at age 69.
Being physically active at any age in adulthood (even if someone only exercises once a month) strengthens brain function. Nevertheless, it is continuity and maintenance that most strongly determines brain health later in life.
And, of course, maintenance of leisure time physical activity across the whole life course will most likely be key to keep later life cognitive abilities.
In sum, the aim of the study, apart from learning about the potential implications of exercise on patients’ brain health, is to encourage workout in adults. Leading a healthy lifestyle, not only in terms of nutrition, but also in terms of physical activity, reduces the risk of suffering from diseases associated with mental deterioration.