Longer, more intense physical activity can help maintain cognitive skills in people as they age, say researchers according to a new study. For the study researchers reviewed data on 295 men born between 1900 and 1920 from the Finland, Italy, and Netherlands Elderly (FINE) study. The length and intensity of physical activities of the participants was measured and cognitive function was evaluated starting in 1990.
Results showed over 10 years, men who reduced their daily physical activity by an hour or more had 2.6-times more cognitive decline than men who maintained their physical activity. The study also showed that men who engaged in the lowest intensity activities (walking less than three miles per day) had more than triple the amount of cognitive decline vs. men who maintained more intense physical activity.
Researchers believe physical activity can help preserve brain function by improving blood flow to the brain and helping to stimulate the growth of nerve cells in a brain region involved in memory function. Thus researchers conclude saying that their study suggests that being physically active in old age could keep the brain fit.