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Aerobic exercise 'benefits elderly'

Aerobic exercise 'benefits elderly'
21st April 2008

Gentle aerobic exercise could have both physical and mental benefits for elderly adults, it has emerged.

A study review conducted in the Netherlands highlighted that improving cardiovascular fitness levels can help boost cognitive processing speed, motor function and visual and auditory health in individuals aged over 50.

This conclusion was based upon 11 controlled trials, involving some 670 adults aged 55 and older, which examined the effects of aerobic exercise on areas of cognition including cognitive processing speed, memory and attention.

Participants exercised aerobically for between two and seven days a week for three months on average.

Speaking about the study's findings, lead author Maaike Angevaren said: "Improvements in cognition as a result of improvements in cardiovascular fitness are being explained by improvements in cerebral blood flow, leading to increased brain metabolism which, in turn, stimulates the production of neurotransmitters and formation of new synapses."

He added that improved cardiovascular fitness can also lead to a decline in cardiovascular disease which is known to have a negative impact on cognition.

This news follows a number of studies highlighting the benefits that regular gentle exercise can have for the elderly.

A study from the Mayo Clinic claimed that exercise can improve mild cognitive impairment, while research conducted at Temple University in Philadelphia suggests that yoga can improve women's balance and reduce the risk of falls.

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