Exercise May Help Keep Seniors Sharp

January 20, 2006 -- Posted at 3:26 p.m. CST


JONESBORO, AR -- A new study suggests that exercising at least three times a week can over time help keep your mind sharp as you age.


Many doctors encourage their older patients to do ''range of motion'' exercises to keep their bodies in shape... but repetitive exercising can help keep your mind in tone as well


“I have relatives who have Alzheimer’s and I want to prevent hopefully from having Alzheimer’s myself.  I’ve heard that it can make your brain 30 percent less likely to lose its capability,” said Kathy Montgomery.


What Montgomery heard is exactly right.  A new study suggests that exercise of any kind over a period of time can help improve the fitness of your mind.


“People who tend to be active and get out more, I think, are a little more alert,” said Dr. Jason Brantt.


“You have to be thinking to get your body to move the way that it's supposed to move and also I think it increases oxygen to the brain,” said Montgomery.


Harriet Yarbrough and her husband come to the gym together every week, “Three days a week:  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  That's all that's suggested.”


A routine they've had since 1997.  “For health reasons and for exercise to take off a little weight -- which does not work,” said Yarbrough.


Doctor Brantt is an orthopedic surgeon for the NEA Medical Center.  He says that by going to the gym many older people can see him less often, “The more active you stay the less likely you are to possibly fall and lose your balance.”


Any type of exercise is beneficial but doctors say walking is one thing that is good for everyone.


“It just makes you feel better.  When you get finished exercising you feel real good,” said Yarbrough.