Exercising twice a week may improve cognition, memory in elderly

New Delhi: Previously conducted numerous studies have shown solid evidence of how regular exercise in any form can contribute towards treating a plethora of health issues.

Numerous studies conducted earlier have often associated physical activity with improved memory, cognition abilities, and overall brain health.

Now, new guidelines released by the American Academy of Neurology suggest that exercising twice a week may improve thinking ability and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Worldwide, more than six percent of people in their 60s and over 37 percent of people aged 85 or above have MCI.

The level of exertion should be enough to work up a bit of a sweat but doesn’t need to be so rigorous that you can’t hold a conversation.

“Regular physical exercise has long been shown to have heart health benefits, and now we can say exercise also may help improve memory for people with mild cognitive impairment,” said lead author Ronald C. Petersen, MD at the Mayo Clinic – a US-based healthcare non-profit.

“What’s good for your heart can be good for your brain,” Petersen added.

MCI is a medical condition that becomes common with aging. While it is linked to problems with thinking ability and memory, it is not the same as dementia. People with MCI have milder symptoms.

People with MCI may struggle to complete complex tasks or have difficulty understanding the information they have read, whereas people with dementia have trouble with daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing, and eating.

However, there is strong evidence that MCI can lead to dementia. Thus, doctors should recommend that people with MCI exercise regularly as part of an overall approach to managing their symptoms, the guideline said.

“Exercising might slow down the rate at which you would progress from mild cognitive impairment to dementia,” Petersen said.

While doctors may recommend cognitive training for people with MCI, there is weak evidence that the training may be beneficial in improving measures of cognitive function.

The guidelines, published in the journal Neurology, were developed after reviewing studies for six-months, which showed that bi-weekly workouts may help people with mild cognitive impairment as part of an overall approach to managing their symptoms.