Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that the aerobic fitness levels of older adults were directly related to the occurrence of age-related cognitive lapses, such as a “tip-of-the-tongue” state, wherein a person has difficulty thinking of a particular word that he strongly believes he knows.
According to lead author Dr. Katrien Segaert, “Older adults free from medical diseases still experience age-related cognitive decline.”
The study, published in Scientific Reports, investigated the relationship between physical activity and temporary cognitive lapses, focusing on the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon which occurs more frequently as people age. The researchers found that the degree of cognitive decline directly correlated to the level of a person’s aerobic fitness.
“In our study, the higher the older adults’ aerobic fitness level, the lower the probability of experiencing a tip-of-the-tongue state,” said Dr. Segaert.
The study involved 28 healthy older adults; 20 women with the average age of 70 and eight men with the average age of 67. They were subjected to a “tip-of-the-tongue” language test alongside 27 younger people (19 women around 23 years old, and eight men around 22 years old). The researchers then compared the test results of the two groups.
The test involved a “definition filling task” done on a computer. The participants were asked to name famous people in the U.K. (authors, politicians, and actors) based on 20 questions. They were also given 20 “easy” words and 20 “low-frequency” definitions and asked if they knew the word relating to the definition.
The participants also did a static bike cycling test which measured their aerobic fitness levels, as well as their ability to use oxygen during exercise.
“Our results also showed that the relationship between the frequency of tip-of-the-tongue occurrences and aerobic fitness levels exists over and above the influence of a person’s age and vocabulary size,” said Dr. Segaert.
“Older adults sometimes worry that tip-of-the-tongue states indicate serious memory problems but this is a misconception: tip-of-the-tongue states are not associated with memory loss,” she added. “In fact, older adults usually have a much larger vocabulary than young adults. Instead, tip-of-the-tongue states occur when the meaning of a word is available in our memory, but the sound form of the word can temporarily not be accessed.”
Exercise tips for seniors
There are different types of exercise for improving different parts of the body. Below are some exercises that are great for adults, as well as seniors. Note that for seniors, it’s important to first check with your healthcare provider before doing any exercise, to help guide your workout routines.
- Strength training – The simple act of getting up out of a chair or climbing the stairs require muscle strength. Lifting weights for all muscle groups (lower body, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and abs) at least twice a week helps strengthen the muscles. You may start with no weights or light weights to help condition your body. You can use dumbbells, machines, or resistance bands. It’s recommended to perform each exercise for at least one set of 10 to 15 repetitions. Be sure to warm up with light exercise before lifting weights.
- Aerobic endurance – Low-impact exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, and water aerobics are the best ones for older adults. Tai chi, line dancing, square dancing, and/or ballroom dancing are great options as well.
- Flexibility and balance – It’s important to stay flexible as you get older, so incorporate yoga and other stretching exercises into your routine. These also promote balance, minimizing falling accidents that are common with seniors.
Exercise improves overall health and quality of life, no matter your age. Visit Slender.news for more workout tips for all ages.