Fitness May Help Minds Stay Sharp
Physical Fitness, Keen Minds Go Together in Scottish Study
Oct. 10, 2006 -- Chalk another point up for physical fitness: It may help
the mind age better.
Scientists in Scotland report that news in Neurology.
The University of Edinburgh's Ian Deary, PhD, and colleagues studied 460
Scottish elders who were 79 years old and didn't have dementia.
Decades earlier, when the elders were 11 years old, they had taken a mental
skills test that mainly covered verbal reasoning, with some questions that
gauged numerical and spatial skills.
They repeated the same mental skills test at age 79.
The elders also took three fitness tests:
- Timed walk of nearly 20 feet
- Grip strength in their dominant hand (best of three trials)
- Lung function (amount of air forcibly exhaled in one second)
Fit Bodies, Sharp Minds
Elders with the highest fitness scores were the most likely to have scored
similarly on the mental skills test at ages 11 and 79.
The results held after adjusting for other factors such as smoking,
education, social class, and a form of the ApoE gene that's been linked to
greater odds of developing Alzheimer's disease.
Participants only took the fitness test when they were 79 years old. So it's
not clear if they had been physically fit throughout their lives.
The study doesn't show whether the elders worked out or stayed active
without a formal exercise program.
Future studies should test whether fitness helps the brain age well, the
researchers note. Meanwhile, there's no reason not to be active -- at any age
-- with your doctor's permission.
Active at Any Age
The CDC recommends that all adults get at least 30 minutes of
moderate-intensity physical activity on five or more days per week.
Get your doctor's approval if you're new to exercise.
Aerobic endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility are all important for
older adults, states the CDC's web site.
The CDC offers these ideas:
- Aerobic activities. Walking, swimming, dancing, skating,
hiking, rolling a wheelchair
- Strength. Lifting weights or cans, carrying laundry or
groceries, gardening, doing strength exercises while sitting in a chair
- Flexibility. Stretching, yoga, tai chi