As we age, moving around can often get more challenging. Issues with vision, joint pain and surgeries all can affect our mobility. There is a side affect to this loss of mobility, which is the effect on our mental capacity. The less we move around, the more impact that has on our minds. What happens if we can’t find a way to stay active? What can happen is we begin to lose our words.
There was an article in the New York Times by Gretchen Reynolds which addresses this:
“ Call them tip-of-the-tongue moments: those times we can’t quite call up the name or word that we know we know. These frustrating lapses are thought to be caused by a brief disruption in the brain’s ability to access a word’s sounds. We haven’t forgotten the word, and we know its meaning, but its formulation dances teasingly just beyond our grasp. Though these mental glitches are common throughout life, they become more frequent with age. Whether this is an inevitable part of growing older or somehow lifestyle-dependent is unknown. But because evidence already shows that physically fit older people have reduced risks for a variety of cognitive deficits, researchers recently looked into the relationship between aerobic fitness and word recall.
For the study, whose results appeared last month in Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of Birmingham tested the lungs and tongues, figuratively speaking, of 28 older men and women at the school’s human-performance lab. Volunteers were between 60 and 80 and healthy, with no clinical signs of cognitive problems. Their aerobic capacities were measured by having them ride a specialized stationary bicycle to exhaustion; fitness levels among the subjects varied greatly. This group and a second set of volunteers in their 20s then sat at computers as word definitions flashed on the screens, prompting them to indicate whether they knew and could say the implied word. The vocabulary tended to be obscure — “decanter,” for example — because words rarely used are the hardest to summon quickly.
To no one’s surprise, the young subjects experienced far fewer tip-of-the-tongue failures than the seniors, even though they had smaller vocabularies over all, according to other tests. Within the older group, the inability to identify and say the right words was strongly linked to fitness. The more fit someone was, the less likely he or she was to go through a “what’s that word again?” moment of mental choking.”
This study was more casual than some, there were other variables not addressed as stated in the article, but the general consensus of this and many other studies is physical activity contributes to our ability to remain mentally active. Even with limitations on how we are able to move, we can still find ways to move and stay fit. A brisk walk each day, swimming, a little dancing here and there, even exercises performed in a chair can all help to keep our bodies and minds moving. There are studies which also show that even lifting light weights a few times a week can help increase our stamina and mae our muscles grown and strengthen.
If you or one of your loved ones is sitting way too much, make it a goal to move a little each day.