Keeping active has myriad benefits. It is said that those who are physically active sleep better, are able to regulate their appetites more effectively and can be healthier overall. Now, a recent study conducted by gerontologists and sports physicians at Goethe University Frankfurt has found physical exercise can be beneficial to not only the body but also the brain, especially for seniors.
The team examined the effects of regular exercise on brain metabolism and memory for 60 participants aged between 65 and 85 in a randomized controlled trial. Researchers determined regular physical exercise has a positive impact on brain metabolism. In other words, keeping physically active prevented an increase in choline, which occurs when there is a loss of nerve cells in the brain, more typically seen in Alzheimer's patients. Study participants also had increased cardiovascular activity, demonstrating exercise can be good for the heart as well.
"Regular physical exercise has a positive impact on brain metabolism."
Getting started with a fitness routine
Seniors don't have to launch into a potentially daunting health routine to reap the benefits. In fact, those who took part in the study used stationary exercise bikes for 30-minute sessions over a period of 12 weeks. Each exercise program was tailored to each participant, indicating that anyone - with guidance from a doctor - can embark on a new fitness routine.
Many people, both old and young, can find exercise to be a chore and not fun, but it doesn't have to be difficult. However, with any new program, it is key to start off slowly and ask for advice from a doctor or other health professional. It is also important to listen to the body, and be mindful of how exercise feels. Walking is a great, low-impact activity that many people enjoy: It is easy, can be done anywhere and is a great way to socialize. Some individuals find that walking at least 10,000 steps a day is key for health. This can be done throughout the day in smaller increments, which some people find to be more manageable.
Others find that they enjoy the freedom cycling offers, but if mobility is an issue, a recumbent, stationary bike can be a good way for older individuals to experience the sensation of riding a bike. If one does not feel capable of biking around, a stationary bike can be an excellent way to experience the same kind of motion. Swimming can be another good option for avoiding impact to the body during exercise. If it is not possible to swim laps, there are alternatives like guided water aerobics or activities involving kickboards and light water weights.