EXERCISE PREVENTS COGNITIVE DECLINE IN OLDER ADULTS
Mild cognitive impairment is a risk factor for dementia; however, early intervention in the form of exercise can limit the progression of cognitive decline in seniors. A 2012 study by researchers at the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility at Vancouver Coastal Health and the University of British Columbia showed that resistance training programs decrease cognitive decline by improving the processes of attention and memory, thereby reducing the risk of dementia in older adults.
The research studied 86 senior women with mild cognitive impairment and compared how both resistance and aerobic training might improve cognitive functions such as attention, memory, problem solving, and decision making. The study participants exercised twice a week for six months and were then given cognitive tests as well as brain plasticity measurements. The results showed resistance training greatly improved cognitive functions, memory, and functional brain plasticity. The study’s researchers thus purport that resistance training can improve both cognitive performance and brain function. Researchers conclude that through exercise, improvements to the brain’s executive functions and associative memory functions could likely offset the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Other similar research on women aged 65-75, published in 2011 in Neurobiology and Aging, showed that progressive strength training performed once or twice weekly improved both cognitive function and brain plasticity.