A new research study found that exercise and cognitive activities can aid in improving mental processing speed.
Our brains are responsible for so much more than we realize. They help us think, process, react, and move our bodies. Even the littlest tasks such as getting out of bed in the morning require you to use your brain. The brain is an organ that may decline, slow down, and age as a person grows older. Maintaining your brain health is just as important as maintaining your physical health as you age.
A recent research study published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology found that physical exercise is beneficial to women’s mental processing speed. Even just a short 15-minute walk or bike ride regularly could help women fight aging brain decline. Judy Pa who is one of the researchers involved in the study and a professor of neurosciences at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine was quoted by CNN as saying, “We found that greater physical activity was associated with greater thinking speed reserve in women, but not men…Taking part in more mental activities was associated with greater thinking speed reserve for both men and women” 2.
Mental processing speed is one of the main aspects of mental decline and cognitive aging. Mental processing speed measures how fast a person is able to think. The ability to think affects daily planning, reflexes, problem-solving, focus, and communication. When a person’s mental processing speed slows down, simple tasks and communication also slow down and become more difficult.
The research study had 758 participants that were an average of 76 years old. They had brain scans completed, did thinking speed tests, memory tests, and weekly physical and mental activity surveys. It was found that both men and women had positive benefits to mental processing speed from cognitive engagement activities such as playing cards, playing games, and reading. Physical activity such as walking was found to help women’s mental processing speed but not men’s.
The bottom line is that brain health is important and people should take steps to fight declining brain health as they age. One factor to consider is that as of now there are no greatly effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, and prevention is the best option we have right now. Both men and women should continue to engage in mentally stimulating activities as they age and women’s brain health may also benefit from exercising.
- LaMotte, S. (2022, July 21). Think more quickly as you age by boosting exercise and mental activities, study says. CNN. Retrieved August 18, 2022
- Judy Pa, Vahan Aslanyan, Kaitlin B. Casaletto, Miguel Arce RenterÃa, Amal Harrati, Sarah E. Tom, Nicole Armstrong, Kumar Rajan, Justina Avila-Rieger, Yian Gu, Nicole Schupf, Jennifer J. Manly, Adam Brickman, Laura Zahodne. Neurology Jul 2022, 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200675; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000200675