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Exercise For Seniors Saves Brain Aging by 10 Years

Exercise For Seniors Saves Brain Aging by 10 Years

“There is no pill for improving quality of life as we age. But there is exercise"

SILVER SPRING, MD – April 26, 2016 – The results of a recent study reveal that moderate to heavy exercise is great for both your heart and your head.  This is especially true for seniors.  A recent CBS News story indicates that moderate to heavy exercise helps keep you healthy and it reduces the aging of the brain, possibly by as much as ten years.

"We found that people who exercise moderately or heavily had a reduced risk of memory loss and what we call executive function, equivalent to about 10 years," reveals study co-author Dr. Mitchell Elkind, Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, New York Presbyterian/Columbia University (New York, NY), in his interview with CBS News.

Elkind says that activities like doing calisthenics, playing handball and/or playing tennis are great athletic outlets for seniors.  One of Elkind’s colleagues in the study, Dr. Clinton B. Wright, University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL), had similar feelings about the power of perspiration.CBS TV Image

"Physical activity is an attractive option to reduce the burden of cognitive impairment in public health because it is low cost and doesn't interfere with medications," said Wright in his CBS News interview. "Our results suggest that moderate to intense exercise may help older people delay aging of the brain.” 

Wright is convinced that there is a strong correlation between regular exercise and keeping the brain sharp.

"Our study showed that for older people, getting regular exercise may be protective, helping them keep their cognitive abilities longer," added Wright in his CBS interview.

“The health benefits of exercise, even at a light-intensity, have been consistently associated with a reduction of risk in cardiovascular diseases, disability, dementia, and bone health,” comments Joshua Z. Willey MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Columbia University (New York, NY), author of the paper and also an expert in exercise and brain health.  “Exercise is also an important component of the lifestyle changes that can have significant effects on blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels.” 

This study focused on roughly 900 people and the average age of each participant was 71.  In a nutshell, the seniors in the study who were considered moderate to heavy exercisers actually had the best health benefits.

It’s quite clear that exercise is a low-cost, effective and preventative form of health care.

Other members of the medical community are in agreement with the conclusions of the study.

“There is no pill for improving quality of life as we age. But there is exercise,” adds Dr. Tim Church, Professor, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA).  “There is nothing more powerful for promoting healthy aging like leading a physically active lifestyle.”

“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things a person can do to remain healthy,” advises Dr. Liz Joy, MD, MPH, Adjunct Professor, Family and Preventative Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine (Salt Lake City, UT).  “The risk of doing nothing far exceeds any risk associated with a brisk walk!”

“Through my teaching graduate students in exercise science, residents in Family Medicine and Internal Medicine, along with my work in the community, I constantly point out the essential importance of regular physical activity across the lifecycle and especially into the autumn years of life,” says Dr. Gregory Heath, DSc, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Research Director, University of Tennessee College of Medicine (Chattanooga, TN).  “It is a game-changing experience when it comes to keeping you healthy, alert, and functionally independent, especially in your advancing years.”

Church, Joy, and Heath are members of Doctors for PHIT America, which is a group that agrees that physical inactivity is the leading health issue in the U.S. in the 21st Century.  And, that it is vital to get more Americans active, fit, and healthy for America’s future.