There’s no disputing that exercise has weight loss benefits, but what other benefits come with working out? A new study published online in Neurology has revealed that elderly people who exercise — even if they’ve already experienced memory loss — may reap mental benefits, too. 

Study participants who exercised showed small improvements on an overall thinking skills test after 6 months, Newswise reported. The same group also showed improved blood pressure, as well as better results on a test of how far they could walk in six minutes.

Researchers examined a group of 70 people with an average age of 74, according to Newswise. The participants all had mild vascular cognitive impairment, but only half took part in one-hour exercise classes three times a week over a six-month period. Vascular cognitive impairment is the second-most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s Disease.

Participants were tested three times — before the study started, at the end of the study and again six months later — on their overall thinking skills, executive function skills, and how well they could complete daily activities.

“Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce the risk of developing memory problems, but few studies have looked at whether it can help people who already have these problems get better or keep from getting worse,” said study author Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PT, PhD, according to Newswise.

Source: Liu-Ambrose T, Best JR, Davis JC, Eng JJ, Lee PE, Jacova C, et al. Aerobic exercise and vascular cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial. Neurology. 2016.

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