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Older Minds Need Physical and Mental Activity

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January 21, 2015

Exercising the body and mind may be the best way to keep an older brain sharp, suggests a new study.

“The best medicine is physical activity,” lead researcher Ralph Martins told Reuters Health.

“At the end of the day, the two together—physical activity and cognitive training—gave us an additional benefit,” said Martins, who directs the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer’s Disease Research and Care at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.

Martins and his colleagues studied 172 people from ages 60 to 85 years, assigning them randomly into four groups.

One group walked three days a week for an hour and did 40 minutes of resistance training twice a week for 16 weeks. Another group did hour-long computer brain-training exercises five days a week, also for 16 weeks. A third group did both the physical exercise and the computer activities. A fourth group maintained their regular routines.

The researchers write in Translational Psychiatry that only the group that engaged in both physical activity and computerized brain training showed significantly improved verbal memory, which helps people remember words and language.

The researchers note that the study failed to show benefits for executive functions that control focus, attention to details and goal setting. They also didn’t find benefits for visual memory, processing speed or attention. Read more…

 

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