I knew video games were good for me. Apparently, they’re also good for seniors, specifically for staving off cognitive decline. At least, that’s what a study of over 100 seniors suggests.
The study split adults into two groups. One exercised on a stationary bike for 45 minutes three times a week. The other group did the same, but on stationary bikes equipped with screens that simulated navigating through different virtual environments. So I guess the title of this article is somewhat misleading; the simulations were virtual, not the exercise.
Those on the “cybercycles” showed minor improvements in certain mental abilities over time, while other cyclists showed no change or declined in their performance of the same tasks. So the visual and mental stimulation of the virtual bike ride seems to have a preventative effect on cognitive decline.
Nobody has really doubted the benefits of exercise on our overall health. But the interesting thing about this study is that it isolated mental activity from physical activity and showed that memory exercises do seem to have an effect.
While no studies have shown a concrete link between steady amounts of mental exercise and maintaining cognitive ability, there is a lot of correlating data to suggest big differences between those who stay mentally active as they age and those who don’t. So it’s probable that mental activity does have something to do with mental aging.
Even though there’s no evidence for it, I can’t see any reason why I’d ever want to slow down with stimulating mental activities like reading, writing and other intellectual pursuits. What do you do to keep your brain active?
image by CBC News