Elders who move get immediate benefits
A single workout can help seniors improve their cognitive function and working memory, according to a new US study.
These improvements were essentially the same as those seen in seniors who regularly trained for several weeks. Researchers at the University of Iowa say the benefits of day-to-day physical activity can now be seen, not just in the long run.
“The oxygenation of the brain, the increase in circulation by about 25 percent when you train … These are all beneficial for the brain and these changes are made quickly enough when you train,” commented Yves Lajoie of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa.
Professor Michelle Voss and her colleagues recruited 34 healthy, sedentary seniors aged 60 to 80 years. Participants did two 20-minute stationary bike sessions, one lighter and one more intense. Each participant underwent brain imaging before and after each session.
After a single training session, the researchers found in some subjects an improvement in connectivity between two brain regions associated with cognition and memory. These same subjects also offered better performance during a memory test.
But beware: the improvement was only short and everything had to be redone.
“We must not think that these results will stay long, confirmed Yves Lajoie. It’s quite ephemeral. If you trained only in the morning and at the end of the day you did not exercise more, probably you found the status quo. ”
That being said, he continues, it is interesting to see the speed with which improvements are manifesting themselves. An older person with a FitBit smartwatch who regularly reminds him to be active may be all the more inclined to do so if he knows, as this study shows, that he will derive immediate benefits.
“It would be interesting for seniors to use this technology and the results of this study to stay cognitively involved,” said Lajoie. Two, three, four times a day would be desirable. ”
The same subjects participated in a three-month training program consisting of 50-minute stationary bike sessions three times a week. Improvements were noted, but they were no greater than those seen after a single session.
The findings of this study were published online by the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.