Research has long linked physical activity and exercise as preventative factors against dementia. But researchers are now considering whether exercising alone or with others may differ in their impacts on the prevention of cognitive impairments. Researchers from Japan launched a longitudinal study with thousands of older adults to compare the influence of working out alone or with a buddy in their prevention of cognitive impairment.
This four-year study looked at 4,358 older adults (average age was 76.9 years). The participants in this study were mailed frequent forms asking them to assess their frequency of exercising alone and with others. Their cognitive health was assessed by using the national standard dementia scale. The results showed that whether exercising alone or with others, cognitive impairment development was reduced. However, exercising with others at least twice a week was more effective in preventing cognitive impairment. Researchers believe that the boost in prevention may be caused by the addition of the social element. In other words, exercise itself helps reduce the development of cognitive impairment, but when done within a social context (having a workout buddy), it is an even stronger preventative link.
This research doubles down on the empirical evidence that physical activity can act as a preventative factor against cognitive impairments, such as dementia. But the preventative link is exacerbated by adding the component of social interaction.
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Nagata, K., Tsunoda, K., Fujii, Y., Jindo, T., & Okura, T. (2023). Impact of exercising alone and exercising with others on the risk of cognitive impairment among older Japanese adults. Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 107, 104908.