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Physical activity improves mental and physical health

April 10, 2014

Medical professionals have long stressed the importance of physical activity, especially for older adults, as it is one of the most important contributing factors to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Whether they're pumping iron at the gym or going on a brisk jog, getting in a little bit of exercise each day is crucial for one's health.

Exercise may improve cognition 
Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland recently conducted a study in which they examined the effect of physical activity on seniors' cognitive abilities, according to a university press release. The study, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging and Incidence of Dementia, found that those who become active later in their lives and are over the age of 40, are less likely to develop dementia later in life. Specifically, participants who engaged in physical activity at least two times a week were much less likely to have the disease than those who did not exercise at all. Scientists added that becoming active after 40, especially in those who were overweight or obese, was key to preventing dementia in later years. 

People who exercise have lower hospital admission rates
Lowered dementia risk is not the only benefit to come of increased physical activity in seniors. A study recently published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society discerned that people who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that were physically active were significantly less likely to be readmitted to the hospital than those who stayed inactive. While this study focused specifically on patients who had COPD, lead author Huong Nguyen explained that the findings were significant for the medical community as a whole.

"Many health care systems are currently focused on providing interventions at or soon after hospital discharge to reduce readmissions," Nguyen said, as quoted by e! Science News. "This study is novel in that we were able to capture information about patients' usual physical activity well before the initial hospitalization and provide evidence that supports the promotion of physical activity across the COPD care continuum."