Toronto: Exercise boosts brain health and researchers have now found that the elderly and sedentary who cannot think of hitting the gym for physical activity may improve their brain health by doing any activity they like.
"I would like seniors to remember that they have the power to improve their physical and cognitive health at any age and that they have many avenues to reach this goal," said Nicolas Berryman from Institut universitaire de geriatrie de Montreal (IUGM) in Canada.
The study compared the effects of different training methods on the cognitive functions of people aged 62 to 84 years.
Two groups were assigned a high-intensity aerobic and strength-training programme, whereas the third group performed tasks that targeted gross motor activities (coordination, balance, ball games, locomotive tasks and flexibility). They performed activities that can easily be done at home.
While the aerobics and strength-training were the only exercises that led to physical fitness improvements after 10 weeks, all three groups showed equivalent improvement in cognitive performance.
"Our new findings suggest that structured activities that aim to improve gross motor skills can also improve executive functions, which decline as we age," Berryman said.
People use executive functions to plan, organise, develop strategies, pay attention to and remember details, and manage time and space.
The study was published in the journal AGE (American Aging Association).