Cognitive decline can be avoided with simple everyday exercises, new study suggests

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While scientists have always recommended physical activity to keep the brain healthy, research now shows regular stretching and motion exercises can help older people with mild memory troubles. 

Researchers at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine recruited 300 adults with mild cognitive decline to do aerobic and stretching-and-balance exercises. The groups were split up based on those two exercises, twice a week with a personal trainer, and trained two additional times a week on their own over a 12-month period. 

The study was presented on Tuesday at the 2022 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in San Diego, California. All the participants had some form of mild cognitive impairment, one of the first stages of dementia, and lived sedentary lifestyles. 

Overall, both groups completed 31,000 exercise sessions, claimed the study's author, Laura Baker. At the end of the experiment, none of the group members had experienced cognitive decline, while a control group with similar participants with mild cognitive impairment who did not work out did decline.

The study shows that even simple exercises can slow cognitive decline for senior citizens in the early stages of dementia. 

The study shows that even simple exercises can slow cognitive decline for senior citizens in the early stages of dementia.  (iStock)

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Baker told the Associated Press the results from the stud indicate "this is doable for everybody," especially for seniors who have a limited physical exercise routine. Moreover, she recommends that exercise "needs to be part of the prevention strategies" for elderly citizens already at risk. 

Maria Carrillo, the chief scientist at the Alzheimer's Association, told the AP that research in the past has indicated daily physical activity has helped reduce inflammation in the brain and increase the amount of blood flowing to it. 

Baker also noted that having a social group or a network of support was crucial for the elder participants

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Participants were routinely given support while being active at their YMCA facilities, and regular video call sessions were set up after Covid-19 shut down the gyms, according to the Associated Press. 

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