The research is clear: regular exercise benefits more than just your body. One of the hottest areas of study in exercise physiology isn’t a muscle, it’s your brain.
A new study concluded that not only do seniors (age 65 and older) who regularly exercise boast better physical health, but also they are at a significantly decreased risk for cognitive decline.
The research team asked 6,400 participants to wear an activity tracker for a week while they simultaneously were put through a series of cognitive tests. Long-term follow-up then occurred with all participants over a 3-year timespan, focusing on basic metrics of health and signs of cognitive impairment. Along with fewer incidences of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, participants with the greatest level of physical activity also exhibited lower rates of Alzheimer’s Disease and age-related memory loss. Results indicated that higher activity levels were associated with a 39%–47% less risk of cognitive impairment, as well as improved memory performance, maintenance of memory, and executive function over time. While the exact mechanisms for this mind-body-health connection are not yet conclusively understood, it is becoming clear that regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do for holistic wellness.
Go on a hike and enjoy the beautiful winter environment or put that project on hold for just a few seconds complete some push-ups in your office. It may be the best thing you can do for your body—and your mind.
By Damian Rodriguez
Dr. Damian Rodriguez is the Health and Exercise Scientist for doTERRA International, LLC. He holds a doctorate in health science, a master’s degree in exercise physiology, and countless professional certifications. He has spent most of his life researching nutrition, exercise, and the lifestyle behaviors associated with optimal health. Along with his passion for health, as someone who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, he is also involved in bringing awareness to autism spectrum disorders.