CUHK Research Shows Positive Effect of
Identifying factors that can protect against memory decline or development of dementia becomes significant. Studies in the west show that cardiovascular (CV) exercise, such as jogging and swimming, may help protect the memory of older adults. However, the effect of Mind-body (MB) exercises such as Tai Chi is not known. A joint research was conducted by the Department of Psychology and Department of Psychiatry to explore the effects of CV and MB exercises on the memory of older adults. The findings were reported by Professor Chan Sui Yin, Agnes of Psychology and Professor Lam Chiu Wa, Linda of Psychiatry at a press conference today.
A total of 140 adults aged 56 and 78 participated in the research. They were divided into four groups according to their exercise level. The four groups are: Mind-Body (MB) Group ¡V those who regularly practice Tai Chi, Baduanjin, Lutungquan, etc.; Cardiovascular (CV) Group ¡V those who regularly practice swimming, jogging, dancing, ball games, etc.; Mind-Body and Cardiovascular (MB + CV) Group ¡V those who practice both MB and CV exercises; and No exercise (NO) Group. These groups of adults were tested of their general mental function, memory and language functions.
Results showed that older adults who practiced MB or CV exercises demonstrated a similar level of memory function, and their learning and memory was better than that of individuals who did not exercise regularly. Those who performed MB exercises have similar or better cognitive functions as compared with those who practiced CV exercises. Those who practiced both types of exercises outperformed all other groups, especially in memory and language functions.
Professor Agnes Chan concluded that practicing both MB and CV exercises appeared to have a combined effect that might help to preserve memory in older adults. In addition, MB exercises may be considered as an alternative training for older adults who cannot practice strenuous physical exercise. Professor Chan recommended elder adults to practice 30 minutes of MB exercise like Tai Chi, and another 15 minutes of CV exercise like dancing or jogging a day.