Exercise Improves Memory In Older Adults, Shows Research

According to the World Health Organization, older adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on a weekly basis or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise. These aerobic exercises can be performed in 10-minute long bouts.

This exercise can benefit health in many ways. A new study shows that exercising can improve memory of healthy older adults by activating the brain regions associated with it.

What Does This New Study Reveal?

A new study which has been carried out by researchers at the University of Maryland shows that even a single session of exercise can increase activation in the circuits of the brain linked to memory which shrink with age and form the brain region first attacked in Alzheimer’s disease. This also includes the hippocampus.

As per Dr. J. Carson Smith, who was the lead author of this study, “While it has been shown that regular exercise can increase the volume of the hippocampus, our study provides new information that acute exercise has the ability to impact this important brain region.” This study has been published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.

For the purpose of the study, researchers involved looked at the brain activity of participants between the ages of 55 and 85 using fMRI. These individuals were healthy and asked to perform a memory-related task which required them to identify famous and non-famous names.

The test was conducted twice, once after 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on an exercise bike and the second time after a period of rest. It was found that the brain activation of participants when they identified the names correctly was substantially higher in four brain cortical regions when the test was performed after exercising in comparison to when it was conducted after rest.

This reveals that exercise’s effect on cognitive neural networks was such that it promoted adaptions over time and contributed to increased functionality and access to memory.

How Exercise Impacts Older Adults

Not only can physical activity improve the quality of life of older adults, it may even prolong their life. For the elderly, exercise can reduce their risk of disabilities, lower their blood pressure, improve their balance, increase their mobility as well as flexibility, and enable weight management. It also helps with the treatment of diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

A study by the Gerontological Society of America showed that fitness training increased the brain volume of older adults. However, before picking an exercise plan, an adult individual should always consult his doctor first, to know not only which exercises to go for but which to avoid. In this regard, setting up exercise goals for health is also recommended.

Key Takeaway

Exercise can improve health by reducing the risk of several ailments along with contributing to the treatment of some as well. As per a new study, healthy older adults can benefit their memory by exercising as one session of exercise can trigger activation in memory neural networks.