Cognitive rehab & memory enhancement: evidence-based interventions (Part 6)

Cognitive rehab & memory enhancement: evidence-based interventions (Part 6)

20 health benefits associated with physical exercise

  1. Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.

  2. Reduces the risk of dying from heart disease.

  3. Reduces the risk of developing diabetes.

  4. Reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure.

  5. Helps reduce blood pressure in people who already have high blood pressure.

  6. Reduces the risk of developing colon cancer.

  7. Reduces feelings of depression.

  8. Reduces feelings of anxiety.

  9. Helps control weight.

  10. Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

  11. Helps older adults become stronger and better able to move about without falling.

  12. Promotes psychological well-being.

  13. Reduces stress.

  14. Reduces the chance of dementia.

  15. Increases neural plasticity (the ability of brain cells to change in response to experiences).

  16. Increases the speed of wound healing.

  17. Reduces nicotine cravings for people who are trying to quit smoking.

  18. Increases reflex speed and improves balance for individuals who have experienced a stroke.

  19. Helps older adults maintain their driving ability.

  20. Reduces food cravings.


This list was compiled from information in a report issued by the United States Surgeon General about physical exercise and from recent research findings.



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  2. Zelinski, E. M., Spina, L. M., Yaffe, K., et al. (2011). Improvement in memory plasticity based adaptive cognitive training: Results of the 3-month follow-up. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 59(2), 258–265.

  3. Winningham, R. G., Anunsen, R. A., Hanson, L., et al. (2003). MemAerobics: A cognitive intervention to improve memory ability and reduce depression in older adults. Journal of Mental Health and Aging, 9(3), 183–192.

  4. Boripuntakul, S., Kothan, S., Methapatara, P., et al. (2012). Short-term effects of cognitive training program for individuals with amnesic mild cognitive impairment: A pilot study. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, 30(2), 138–149.

  5. Aguirre, W. B., Spector, E., & Orell, M. (2012). Cognitive stimulation to improve cognitive functioning in people with dementia (Review). The Cochrane Library, (2), 1–80; doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD005562. pub2.

  6. Stine-Morrow, E. A. L., Parisi, J. M., Morrow, D. G., & Park, D. C. (2008). The effects of an engaged lifestyle on cognitive vitality: A field experiment. Psychology and Aging, 23(4), 778–786.

  7. Smith, G. E., Housen, P., Yaffe, K., et al. (2009). A cognitive training program based on principles of brain plasticity: results from the Improvement in Memory with Plasticity-based Adaptive Cognitive Training (IMPACT) study. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 57(4), 594–603.

  8. Paillard-Borg, S., Wang, H., Winblad, B., & Fratiglioni, L. (2009). Pattern of participation in leisure activities among older people in relation to their health conditions and contextual factors: A survey in a Swedish urban area. Ageing and Society, 29(5), 803–821.

  9. Verghese, J., LaValley, A., Derby, C., et al. (2006). Leisure activities and the risk of amnestic mild cognitive impairment in the elderly. Neurology, 66(6), 821–827.

  10. Ertel, K. A., Glymour, M. M., & Berkman, L. F. (2008). Effects of social integration on preserving memory function in a nationally representative US elderly population. American Journal of Public Health, 98(7), 1215–1220.

  11. Buchman, A. S., Boyle, P. A., Yu, L., et al. (2012). Total daily physical activity and the risk of AD and cognitive decline in older adults. Neurology, April 18, 2012 [epub ahead of print]; doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182535d35.

  12. Scarmeas, N., Luchsinger, J. A., Schupf, N., et al. (2009). Physical activity, diet, and risk of Alzheimer disease. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(6), 627–637.

  13. Colcombe, S., & Kramer, A. F. (2003). Fitnesseffects on the cognitive function of older adults: A meta-analytic study. Psychological Science, 14(2), 125–130.

  14. Liu-Ambrose, T., Nagamatsu, L. S., Graf, P., et al. (2010). Resistance training and executive functions. Archives of Internal Medicine, 170(2), 170–178.

  15. Nagamatsu, L. S., Handy, T. C., Hsu, C. L., et al. (2012). Resistance training promotes cognitive and functional brain plasticity in seniors with probably mild cognitive impairment. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(8), 666–668.

  16. Kris-Etherton, P. M., Harris, W. S., Appel, L. J., for the American Heart Association (AHA) Nutrition Committee. (2002). AHA Scientific Statement. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 106(21), 2747–2757.

  17. Albenese, E., Dangour, A. D., Uauy, R., et al., (2009). Dietary fish intake and dementia in Latin America, China, and India: A 10/66 Dementia Research Group population-based study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(2), 392–400.

  18. Xu, W. L., Atti, A. R., Gatz, M., et al. (2011). Midlife overweight and obesity increase late-life dementia risk: A population-based twin study. Neurology, 76(18), 1568–1574.

  19. Singh-Manoux, A., Czernichow, S., Elbaz, A., et al. (2012). Obesity phenotypes in midlife and cognition in early old age. The Whitehall II cohort study. Neurology, 79(8), 755–762.

  20. Wilson, R. S., Krueger, K. R., Arnold, S. E., et al. (2007). Loneliness and risk of Alzheimer disease. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(2), 234–240.

  21. Cuijpers, P., & Van Lammeren, P. (1999). Depressive symptoms in chronically ill elderly people in residential homes. Aging and Mental Health, 3(3), 221–226.

  22. Carstensen, L. L. (1991). Socioemotional selectivity theory: Social activity in life-span context. Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 11, 195–217.

  23. Carstensen, L. L. (1992). Social and emotionapatterns in adulthood: Support for socioemotional selectivity theory. Psychology and Aging, 7(3), 331–338.

  24. Haslam, C., Haslam, S., Jetten, J., et al. (2010). The social treatment: The benefits of group interventions in residential caresettings. Psychology and Aging, 25(1), n157–167.

  25. Alexopoulos, G. S. (2005). Depression in the elderly. Lancet, 365(9475), 1961–1970.

  26. Winningham, R. G., & Pike, NB. L. (2007). A cognitive intervention to enhance institutionalized older adults’ social support networks and decrease loneliness. Aging and Mental Health, 11(6), 716–721.

  27. Winningham, R. G. (2010). Brain Training: How to Maximize Memory Ability in Older Adulthood. New York NY: Baywood Publishing Company.


This article is provided courtesy of the International Council on Active Aging