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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Stretching and Balance Exercises Can Avert Mental Decline

Illustration of person standing on yoga mat with arm back pulling on foot stretching quadricep with other arm extended out

To protect against memory loss, simple stretching and balance exercises work as well as hard-driving aerobics, concludes a new study from Wake Forest University. The study enrolled 296 sedentary older adults with mild cognitive decline such as forgetting dates, keys and names. Those that performed simple stretching routines for 120 to 150 minutes per week experienced no memory decline in a year’s time, as measured by cognitive tests and brain scans that showed no shrinkage. These results matched the outcome of people that did moderate-intensity aerobic training on treadmills or stationary bikes four times a week, striving for about 30 to 40 minutes of a heightened heart rate. A control group of equally matched people that did not exercise did decline cognitively. The people that exercised were supervised by trainers at local YMCAs, which may have helped them stay motivated, say the researchers.