Boosting mental and physical activity can keep you fit as you age

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As the aging population in the US continues to grow, more people are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every day, with the number expected to rise to 13 million by 2050. A new study examines how lifestyle factors , specifically physical and mental activities, affect the functioning of the brain. Thought reserves and impacts the process of mental aging.

The study awarded one point for each mental activity (including reading, playing cards or games, and going to a class) up to a maximum of three points. For every additional mental activity over three, the women reduced aging in their mental processing by 10 years. For men, it was 17 years.

“It’s never too early or too late to participate in physically and mentally stimulating activities,” says Judy Pa, researcher and author of the study. Fortune. “It’s also a good idea to try new activities to continue to challenge your brain, mind, and body to learn and adapt.”

Women were more likely to participate in group social activities than men, which could explain the differences between the sexes. Group activities that involve a social component, learning a new language or skill, or trying out a new game are all potentially beneficial activities to try, says Pa.

The researchers further concluded that increased mental activities were associated with faster thinking speed in both men and women, and with greater memory reserves in women only.

The study, published July 20 by the American Academy of Neurology, analyzed brain scans of 758 people with an average age of 76. The study also tested the participants’ speed of thought and calculated their “cognitive reserve,” described as the ability to think solidly. even when the individual has dementia or cognitive impairment. The researchers compared these scores to the participants’ levels of weekly physical activity and mental activity.

The study found that physical activity was associated with faster thinking speed in women, but not in men, while physical activity was not associated with greater memory reserves for men or women. The study authors found that having twice as much physical activity as initially recorded would reduce 2.75 years of aging in women’s lives in relation to their processing speed.

Women are at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men, accounting for two-thirds of cases. This is likely due to a more complex set of biological and social factors related to hormone levels and the stresses that come with aging, says Pa. Therefore, it is important to study how physical and mental activity affect men and women differently. different, but Pa notes that more research is needed to determine any correlation between physical activity, mental activity, and cognitive reserve in men and women.

“What types of activities, how often, and for whom are active areas of research in the field of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Pa. “Finally, [increasing mental activity] it is a favorable relationship in women and men and provides new avenues of behavioral therapy to combat the risk of Alzheimer’s.”

While lifestyle changes have been shown to delay or prevent cognitive decline, more research is needed to experimentally study sex differences, says Stephen Rao, professor of neurology and director of the Schey Center for Cognitive Neuroimaging at the Clinic. Cleveland. He pushes for more experimental studies, testing equal numbers of men and women, and equal numbers of people predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease.

“There’s good evidence that physical activity and higher levels of mental activity protect the brain,” Rao says, noting that people who exercise are more likely to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s than over time. it can reduce the overall number of people living with and dying from the disease.

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