COGNITIVE CONCERNS AS WE AGE: LIVING LONGER MEANS BEING MORE PROACTIVE ABOUT OUR HEALTH
Noticing changes in your cognition or a loved one’s as we age is difficult. The good news is there is new research coming out about exercise and cognition. The key is finding the right exercise prescription for you!
Cognitive decline can include decreases in the following:
Attention Processing Speed (reaction time)
Executive Function (impulse control, planning and organizing)
WHAT DOESN’T WORK
1.Online games, puzzles, word searches
2.Easy coordinative tasks
1.Those activities don’t get your heartrate up, for one thing. Another reason – those kinds of activities rely on semantic memory – or long-term memory. This can include recalling names of Presidents, famous people, and any trivia.
WHAT DOES WORK
1.Aerobic and cognitive challenges that increase cerebral blood flow
2.Open skills during workouts: unpredictable and changeable demands
1.Blood flow is vital to the overall function and health of the brain. Physical and cognitive tasks together work toward enhancing divided attention, task switching and selective attention (all of which worsen with age).
2.If the goal is increased cognition, there must be appropriate stimulus to affect change. The right amount of cognitive load must be programmed into your workout sessions. COGNITIVE LOAD refers to the complexity of a new task.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
As individuals get older, more effort is required to stimulate greater degrees of neuroplastic change in the brain (the brain’s ability to change in structure, function and neural organization as a result of experience).
You will have a higher degree of change from the integration of multiple stimuli, and in response to a higher amount of novelty, variability, challenges and motivation.
The minimum program length for cognitive benefits is 3 months. Additional cognitive benefits occur after 6 months and 12 months.
PRACTICING DUAL TASKING CAN BE HUGELY BENEFICIAL FOR OLDER ADULTS AND MAY EVEN PROLONG FUNCTIONAL INDEPENDENCE
How do you want to age?