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Mental health exercises keep mind 'fit'

8th September 2005

Doing mental exercises can give elderly people an extra 14 years of 'cognitive youth', according to British scientists.

Research from psychology professor Ian Robertson's book 'Stay Sharp' revealed that mental ageing could be reduced or slowed by strengthening the mind with 'cognitive exercises'.

The book detailed a US study involving volunteers aged 65-and-older who undertook training sessions to improve their memory, problem-solving skills and reaction times.

Those who completed ten, one-hour sessions had the mental abilities equivalent to people between seven and 14 years younger than those who did not have training.

The Telegraph reported Professor Robertson told the BA Festival of Science: "There is strong evidence that when you get over 50 the degree to which you maintain your function is down to just a handful of factors. Diet, exercise, mental stimulation, mental training and stress are all key factors in determining whether your brain can stay healthy enough for you to enjoy life in the new prime between 50 and 80."

Professor Robertson added that it would cost governments less to implement campaigns encouraging the elderly to exercise their minds, as opposed to allowing them to become depend on other members of the community.