Physical activity has been celebrated as a “miracle drug” for both physical and mental health. Specifically, it is recommended to combine aerobic exercise and strength training to have optimal health impacts.
A recent systematic review revealed that increasing the number of hours of being physically active was correlated with improved cognitive performance. This research adds to a quickly growing body of knowledge that regular physical activity supports the improvement or maintenance of cognitive reserve across the lifespan. Professor Yaakov Stern of Columbia University is an expert at the forefront of this emerging topic, consider reaching out.
In response to this article, Dr. John Beard, the World Health Organization’s Director of the Department of Ageing and Life Course, recently tweeted an important point: “Actually, I don’t want to keep my brain young, I like how it has developed over the years and the wisdom and tolerance that experience has given me. What I want to avoid is cognitive decline. No need to reinforce #ageism to encourage physical activity”. As a global expert in ageing, Dr. Beard is a strong advocate against ageist stereotypes.
The stereotypes about severe cognitive impairment being an inevitable part of ageing, i.e. the “senior moment”, are inaccurate and ageist. Considering that physical activity and other lifestyle choices can impact older peoples’ brain health, it should not be assumed that dementia is a normal or natural part of ageing. With this shift in perspective, the public could feel more empowered to take charge of their brain and cognitive health.
Prof. Yaakov Stern Florence Irving Professor of Neuropsychology
Neurology and psychology expert exploring the neural basis for cognitive aging and cognitive reserve
Dr. John Beard Director of Ageing and Life Course
Dr John Beard, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., is Director of Ageing and Life Course with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva