According to new research, these three exercises can improve brain health as you age

Want to keep your brain as healthy as possible as you age? Aerobic exercise may be the key.

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Reviewed by Nutritionist Jessica Ball, MS, RD

The harsh truth is that everyone experiences some degree of cognitive decline as we age. In fact, most people tend to feel the effects of aging on their brain health as early as their 30s, whether it’s through symptoms like forgetfulness and mental disorders or other More subtle signs like personality changes. What is the silver lining you ask? Well, there are still plenty of options we have to keep ourselves as healthy as possible as we age.

Related: 5 habits to add to your day to prevent cognitive decline

Plenty of research shows that exercise is an effective way to help maintain a healthy brain and cognition. From stress-relieving activities to resistance training, physical activity may seem like it only targets specific muscle groups, but it can also have surprising benefits for brain health. A new international study suggests that an effective, comprehensive approach to improving cognitive performance may just be aerobic exercise.

What did this study of cognition find?

According to an October 2023 study published in the journal World Medicine, when 25 healthy golfers over the age of 65 participated in golf, walking or Nordic walking, cognitive functions decreased. like processing speed and working memory are improved. Open Journal of Sports & Exercise Medicine BMJ.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Edinburgh, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zrich instructed participants to perform three differently-paced bouts of aerobic exercise:

The data showed that in each case, whether participants were playing golf, walking or Nordic walking, they showed improvements in cognitive functions such as information processing and vision. After Nordic walking, scores in certain aspects of brain function such as task switching were especially high compared to the other groups. According to the publication, this may be because Nordic walking places higher cognitive demands than regular walking. However, the overall results were roughly equal across the three exercises, and more research on larger, more diverse groups of participants is needed to draw conclusions about the link between exercise and human performance. Brain.

This study adds to evidence that any form of exercise, including low-impact activities like walking and golf, may be better than no exercise at all. These findings highlight the value of age-appropriate aerobic exercise, such as golf, Nordic walking and regular walking, in maintaining and enhancing cognitive function in older adults. Previous research has shown that exercise also shows promise as a potential strategy for people with cognitive impairment.

Bottom line

This study found that three aerobic exercises (golf, walking and Nordic walking) all improved brain function in golfers over 65 years of age.

More research in larger and more diverse populations is needed to determine whether a particular exercise can help improve brain function or slow cognitive decline more than another. However, previous findings and research clearly show that choosing to exercise is better for your brain than not exercising at all.

Now, you don’t have to immediately switch to walking the popular 10,000 steps a day or become a regular golfer, but you can start to consider what habits work best for you. yourself to incorporate brain-healthy exercises into your routine.

Read the original article about Eating Well.

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