The People's Perspective on Medicine

Staying Active Keeps Seniors Sharp

Older people are often urged to stay mentally active with crossword puzzles or other cognitive challenges. They have also been encouraged to exercise physically.

A small new study compared the effects of physical and mental activity on a group of roughly 100 sedentary senior citizens who were complaining of memory or thinking difficulties. Subjects were randomized to either aerobic exercise or stretching, computerized mental challenges or educational DVDs.

In the course of three months, all subjects improved their cognitive test scores significantly, but no one intervention stood out. The researchers concluded that sedentary older adults complaining of memory problems benefit from activity of any sort. 

The bottom line seems to be that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for the brain. Socialize, stay active, do any kind of exercise or challenge yourself mentally and you are likely to benefit. 

[JAMA Internal Medicine, May 13, 2013]

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I am 75. My memory is very bad. I do not have a car. I live in Putnam County and there is no bus service. I stay home all the time. How can I do besides puzzles to help my memory?

I would like to know the definition of “seniors” used in the study. This word seems to be a moving target, especially for those of us over 65. I hardly consider myself to be senior though I am sure young researchers would disagree.

I work out at the YMCA 5 days a week. I am 89 years old. I am in very good shape.

I had some profound thoughts to share with all of you, but I completely forgot them. Oh well, I’m off to the gym, then to Tai Chi, then to my French class, after which I will watch three new and interesting educational DVD’s. Laughter is one of the best medicines.

* Be nice, and don't over share. View comment policy^