Can exercise boost your mind?
Physical activity has been associated with improvements in both physical and mental health. The physical benefits of exercise are well documented with it reducing risk of chronic disease and improving functional ability in older adults.
Some research has also found mental benefits associated with physical activity including improved mood and symptoms in people with anxiety and depression. It has also been hypothesised that physical activity might benefit cognitive abilities in older adults and slow cognitive decline however research in the area has had mixed results.
Australian research investigated the association between different intensities of physical activity and muscle strength, and executive functioning and psychomotor performance in older adults.
Participants were community-dwelling adults aged between 50 and 79 years. Their level of physical activity was measured by an accelerometer – an instrument used to measure acceleration. Level of sedentary behaviour was also recorded.
Participants underwent neuropsychological testing to assess set-shifting (cognitive function that involves the ability to shift attention between one task and another) and psychomotor speed (actions involving physical movement related to conscious cognitive processing). Their level of educational attainment was also recorded.
After controlling for confounding factors, researchers found that light physical activity was positively associated with participants’ ability to set-shift.
This study found that light physical activity undertaken by older adults was associated with improved cognitive functioning.
The results suggest that older adults may benefit from being prescribed exercise programs as they age, not only for their physical health, but also for their mind. This suggests even low levels of exercise can benefit cognitive function in older adults so may be attainable even by those who don’t enjoy, or feel they don’t have time, to exercise.
Last Reviewed: 29/11/2019
Your Doctor. Dr Michael Jones, Medical Editor.
Johnson, L et al. (2016). Light physical activity is positively associated with cognitive performance in older community dwelling adults. Sports Medicine Australia. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2016.02.002.
Can you prevent dementia?
Research shows that modifying your lifestyle can reduce the effect of cognitive decline in older adults.
The real risk of too much TV
It's official, research shows that increased time spent watching television is associated with increased deaths rates in older adults.
Ankylosing spondylitis: changing behaviour, changing health
Researchers looked at behaviour change intervention in adults with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that targets the joints of the spine to improve mobility and quality of life. This is what they found.
Step your way out of hospital
Researchers look at what simple lifestyle changes can lead to fewer days in hospital for older adults.
Food for the mood
Improving diet may be one step in reducing symptoms for people with depression.