Physical exercise may help improve memory and thinking in people with mild cognitive impairment. It could even be a better recipe for medications. It is assured by a new guide for doctors published in the journal Neurology, the medical publication of the American Academy of Neurology. Specifically, the guide indicates that physicians should recommend exercise twice a week to those affected by mild cognitive impairment.
As the leading authors of the new guidelines, supported by the Alzheimer’s Association, point out, what’s good for your heart can be good for your brain. It has long been proven that regular physical exercise has benefits for heart health, and now they also say that it can help improve memory.
A HALF WAY OF DEMENTIA
The benefits we are talking about are in the presence of mild cognitive impairment, which affects more than 6% of people over 60 and more than 37% of people over 85 years. This type of decline is that which occurs in an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more severe decrease that occurs in the presence of dementia. Symptoms can involve problems with memory, language, thinking and judgment, which occur more severely than normal changes related to age.
In general, these changes are not serious enough to interfere significantly with everyday life and usual activities. However, mild cognitive impairment may increase the risk of progress after dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions.
However, some people with mild cognitive impairment never get worse, and some eventually improve. This is where sport can be optimal.
PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE TRAINING
The authors of the guide have developed the recommendations after reviewing all available studies. From there they have learned that twice a week workouts can help people with mild cognitive impairment as part of a general approach to controlling their symptoms.
This training should incorporate aerobic exercise, from walking quickly to running, the way you want. The level of effort should be enough to exercise a little, but not so rigorous to the point that does not allow a conversation.
Another update to the guide says that doctors may also recommend cognitive training for people with mild cognitive impairment. This type of training consists of repetitive memory and reasoning exercises. In any case, the scientific evidence that indicates that this type of exercise can improve cognitive function is still very weak.
The new guide does not recommend changes in medications, and focuses on finding lifestyle factors that may slow down the rate of cognitive decline. In this sense, we do not have to see aging as a passive process, but as a phase in which we can intervene and do something to slow down the processes of deterioration inherent to the passing of the years. As the same experts indicate, if one is destined to have cognitive problems at age 72, exercise can help to delay them until 75 or 78. And, in fact, without too much effort.