New research finds that a 6-month regimen of aerobic exercise can reverse symptoms of mild cognitive impairment in older adults. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is characterized by a mild loss of cognitive abilities, such as memory and reasoning skills.
A person with MCI may find it hard to remember things, make decisions, or focus on tasks.
While the loss of cognitive abilities is not serious enough to interfere with daily activities, MCI raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 15–20 percent of adults aged 65 and over in the United States have MCI.
New research suggests that there might be a way to reverse these age-related cognitive problems. James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D. — of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC — and colleagues examined the effects of regimented exercise in 160 people aged 65 on average.
The new study revealed a 5-point average increase on executive function skills among people who exercised and dieted, compared with those who either only exercised or only dieted.
Executive function is the cognitive ability that enables a person to plan and organize goal-driven actions, as well as focus and self-regulate their behavior. The researchers found no significant improvement in memory.