2 new studies just released in the January issue of the Archives of Neurology show that exercising in midlife not only improves the physical health of your body, it also improves the health of your mind.
Researchers found that people who did moderate physical activity in midlife or later had a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment and that six months of high-intensity aerobic exercise improved cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.
The first study included 1,324 dementia-free volunteers taking part in the study. The participants completed a physical exercise questionnaire and were assessed and classified as having normal cognition (1,126) or mild cognitive impairment (198).
Those who said they did moderate exercise — such as swimming, brisk walking, yoga, aerobics or strength training — during midlife were 39 percent less likely to have mild cognitive impairment, while those who did moderate exercise later in life were 32 percent less likely to have the condition.
The second study included 33 adults, average age 70, with mild cognitive impairment. Some were randomly assigned to do high-intensity aerobics for 45 to 60 minutes a day, four days a week. Others were put in a control group that had the same workout schedule, but did stretching exercises and kept their heart rate low.
After six months, the patients who did high-intensity aerobic exercise had improved cognitive function compared to those in the control group. The improvements were more significant in women than in men.
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