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  • Writer's pictureJulie Manley

Exercise that combines mind and movement to stave off dementia

More and more research has been suggesting that exercise programs for seniors and people with neurological disabilities should include "thinking" exercises. We often use topics and/or math questions while balancing and exercising. A new Western University research study had Woodstock seniors complete a 15-minute choreographed step exercise after their regular workout. They showed "improvements in their memory and cognition — not just at the end of the study, but six months later."

The report, presented at an international Alzheimer’s conference in London, England, followed 127 Woodstock-area seniors as they completed a workout regime three times a week for six months. Half did 45 minutes of strength and aerobic exercise alone, followed by 15 minutes of stretching.

The rest completed the same fitness routine, but ended their workout with mind-motor training instead, a step pattern activity on a gridded floor mat.

The seniors watched the steps, then tried to mimic them as they got progressively more complicated.

“The intervention is quite novel, it’s unique and it does make a change. And those changes are long-term,” said Dr. Robert Petrella, a Western family medicine and kinesiology professor who oversaw the study.

“We challenged the brain and the way it functions.”

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