There are numerous benefits to exercise, which is why chiropractors have always been strong advocates for supporting an active lifestyle for our patients. Below are some excerpts from a recent study summarizing the evidence specific to cognitive benefits of exercise for individuals over 50. The results are promising for both aerobic and resistance training, reminding us how important it is to incorporate patient preference into any exercise prescription. As we all know, the best exercise is the type that we will actually do- and enjoy!
The study “Exercise interventions for cognitive function in adults older than 50: a systematic review with meta-analysis” written by Northey JM, Cherbuin N, Pumpa KL, et al. was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018. The study states that “as any population ages, cognitive decline becomes more of an issue. Maintaining a physically active lifestyle has been shown to help reduce age-related cognitive declines and incidence of dementia. The most accepted hypothesis to explain this relationship postulates that neural and vascular adaptation to physical exercise promotes neurogenesis, angiogenesis, synaptic plasticity, decreased proinflammatory processes, and reduced cellular damage due to oxidative stress, all leading to improved cognitive function.” This study demonstrates what we have long discussed and advocated for with our patients- not only does both aerobic and resistance training help increase our cardiovascular health, increase and maintain bone density, aid in weight management, provide us with endorphins (our “happy” hormones) and decrease stress but, as this study shows, aids in improving our cognitive health.
There is a fairly large pool of evidence backing this conclusion, “thirty-nine studies were included in the quantitative analysis. All modes of exercise (except yoga) produced significant positive effects on cognitive function. Studies with a medium duration of exercise (45-60 minutes) showed positive effects, while short- and long-duration exercise did not show statistically significant results. Moderate and vigorous exercise intensity had similar positive effect sizes, while low-intensity exercise did not show statistically significant results.”
The study further states that “exercise in general showed statistically significant effects on all domains except for global cognition. Resistance training showed significant effects on executive function, memory and working memory and tai chi showed significant effects on working memory. Both aerobic and resistance training were shown to have similar effect sizes.”
So what exactly does all this mean? This study is great evidence for the positive effects that exercise has on our overall brain health. Increasing, and maintaining, cognitive function and overall brain health as we age is extremely important and it is great to know that exercise is one way in which we can help this process. We’ve always known that there are huge health benefits from exercising and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle but it is great to have a study to demonstrate the benefits to our brain that exercise provides!
For any questions, or to make an appointment at our Mount Pleasant Chiropractic office, call us at 843-416-8012.