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Too Old for Exercise? Your Brain Doesn't Think So.

How Exercise Protects 85 Year Old Brains


Updated December 19, 2007

Exercise can keep your brain healthy, even past age 85. A recent study shows that older adults (85+) who exercise at least 4 hours per week have up to an 88% reduction in their risk of cognitive impairment. In the study, researchers followed 66 healthy older (85+) adults for an average of almost 5 years. Overall, 38 (58%) developed some form of cognitive impairment.

Exercise Prevents Cognitive Impairment

Less active women had twice the risk of cognitive impairment when compared to less active men, and 5 times the rate of active women. This is very good news. It means you can take action to protect your brain health (and not worry about what "runs in the family"). Physical and mental exercise can influence the onset and severity of cognitive decline with age (in women). In this particular study, the researchers only observed a positive effect for the women in the group. It is unclear why the men did not see a benefit in terms of cognitive impairment. Hopefully, future studies will explain this gender difference.

Older Women Should Exercise for Brain Health

So if you are an older woman (or there is one in your family) do everything possible to exercise at least 4 hours a week. This will help improve balance, energy, and sleep as well as protect your brain from cognitive impairment.


Aleksandra Sumic, MPH, Yvonne L. Michael, ScD, Nichole E. Carlson, PhD, Diane B. Howieson, PhD, Jeffrey A. Kaye, MD, PhD. Physical Activity and the Risk of Dementia in Oldest Old. Journal of Aging and Health, Vol. 19, No. 2, 242-259 (2007).

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