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Take This Walk: Your Aging Brain Will Work Better

THURSDAY, February 3, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Worried about losing your mental faculties as you age? Get outside and exercise, according to new research.

Physical activity helps keep the aging brain sharp, according to the latest in numerous studies showing a link between exercise and brain health.

This study included 90 adults, aged 50 to 74, who wore devices to measure their level of physical activity and performed reflection tests at home.

According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, participants did better on the tests on days when they were more active and worse on days when they exercised less.

“It was a very linear relationship,” said lead researcher Raeanne Moore, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry. “We speculated that we would find this, but we couldn’t be sure because we weren’t telling people to increase their physical activity. They just did what they do every day.

The association between physical activity and improved mental function remained after researchers took into account factors such as age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, and gender. HIV status, but only for participants who relied on others to perform daily tasks such as paying bills or managing the household.

“For them, physical activity may have a greater benefit on day-to-day, real-world cognitive performance,” Moore said in a university press release.

Functionally independent older adults likely receive more brain stimulation through daily tasks and social activities, so physical activity may have less of an impact on their mental functioning, Moore suggested.

The results were published on January 31 in the journal JMIR mHealth and uHealth.

“Future interventions, in which we ask people to increase their physical activity, will help us determine whether daily changes in physical activity lead to daily gains in distance-measured cognition or vice versa,” said the first author. of the study, Zvinka Zlatar, clinical psychologist.

According to the study authors, this research could help find new ways to keep the brain healthy as people age.

“We don’t yet know if there is a long-term cumulative effect to these small daily fluctuations in cognition,” Zlatar said in the statement. “This is something we plan to study next – to see if engaging in physical activity at different intensities over time, in unsupervised environments, can produce long-term improvements in brain health. and lasting behavior change.

More information

Harvard Health says more about the benefits of exercise for the brain.

SOURCE: University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, press release, January 31, 2022