Exercising with others offers greater benefits to older people: Study
Exercise is beneficial in obvious ways like getting a leaner and stronger body, yet its benefits can also improve the brain, including in older adults. Socializing can also have cognitive benefits.
Now, a study published in Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, not only found cognitive benefits of regular exercise among older people, it found even greater benefits when exercise is done with others.
The global number of dementia patients is expected to surpass 150 million by 2050. As a result, interest is rising in manageable activities, such as exercise and socializing, which may reduce the risk of age-related cognitive disorders.
“Exercise is manageable for many older people, and we saw cognitive benefits from it compared with those who don't exercise. But it's even more noteworthy that we found exercise's benefits rise—14.1 percentage points in our study—when performed with others and at least twice a week," said Tomohiro Okura, a professor at the University of Tsukuba and study's senior author.
Studies reinforce these findings in various ways. Exercise can provide favorable physical and mental outcomes. It can also reduce chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Exercising in groups introduces a social element, and socializing has also been found to potentially reduce the development of cognitive disorders.
"A majority of the older adults in our study took part in exercise by themselves, and we can see the cognitive benefits when they do so at least twice a week," Professor Okura says. "Adding in the social element, however, may make regular exercise all the more preventive. Adopting this habit could be extremely valuable."
Further studies now need to look at factors such as exercise intensity and type. These findings may inform the development of specialized exercise programs that combine exercise and dementia for the prevention of dementia and other related conditions.
Source: University of Tsukuba