Improving Cognitive Function in Older Adults

The prevalence of Alzheimer’s and various forms of dementia are on the rise in western society and scientists and doctors alike are looking for ways to prevent and combat these horrible diseases . Luckily, recent studies have found promising strategies to reduce the rate of cognitive decline as we age. For many years research has shown that regular exercise leads to improved physiological and cognitive function. As the general population becomes more sedentary at home and in the work place, the role of exercise for improved health has become increasingly important.

The current hypothesis to explain the positive cognitive effect of exercise is that physical activity induces neural and vascular adaptation that promotes neurogenesis. In other words, maintaining exercise in your daily life will help increase the brains ability to produce new neurons. Physical activity will also decrease systemic inflammation and reduce cellular damage caused by oxidative free radical. As a result, older adults who engage in moderate amounts of physical activity maintain a higher level of cognitive functioning

 

The results of this meta-analysis demonstrated that both aerobic and resistance training exercise were beneficial in improving cognitive outcomes in people over the age of 50. It is recommended that training sessions should be 45-60 minutes in lengths and performed at a moderate to vigorous intensity. These results are not surprising and will hopefully provide aging adults with a starting point in preventing age-related dementia.

For some, it may be a challenge to create a workout plan that suits their specific physical capacity. I recommend seeing a health care practitioner with proper training in therapeutic exercise and rehabilitation to at least get you started! Taking on a training program can be overwhelming for beginners and having a helping hand and some extra motivation will go along way. Many chiropractors will be able to get you started and guide you on your journey to healthier and more rewarding life!

Northey JM, Cherbuin N, Pumpa KL, Smee DJ, Rattray B. Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2017 Mar 30:bjsports-2016.