Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that those who practiced a famous martial art managed to improve their performance on cognitive tests.
The benefits that physical activity brings to our health are numerous. Beyond weight control, it also lowers the risk of heart disease, promotes healthy aging, improves mood, and even boosts brain health.
However, recent research carried out by American scientists suggests that a exercise Millennials may be able to delay mild cognitive impairment by a few years.
It is Tai chi an ancient discipline originating from China that promotes physical and mental development, as it consists of gentle stretching with breathing and concentration techniques. The idea is that each position leads to the next, without stopping, meaning the person is constantly moving. This activity is often called “moving meditation.”
It should be noted that mild cognitive impairment causes alterations in memory and thinking, but of less severity than in Alzheimer’s disease. According to the site, some signs of this condition include forgetting to attend scheduled events or meetings, regularly losing items, and difficulty expressing words. Alzheimer’s .
How Tai Chi Can Slow Cognitive Decline
The study, published in the scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine brought together 318 people with an average age of 70 and presenting slight memory problems.
The researchers asked volunteers to practice the Chinese martial art for an hour every two weeks, for six months, via video conference. A more difficult version of tai chi, called Cognitive Enhanced Tai Ji Quan, was used, in which participants had to try to spell words while moving.
Additionally, they received the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, a test that measures cognitive functions such as attention, language, conceptual thinking, concentration and orientation.
When people score between 26 and 30, it is considered normal, while when they score between 18 and 25, it indicates that there is a slight cognitive deficit.
At the start of the study, the average score presented by the group of participants was 25.
After testing, researchers found that those who did tai chi managed to increase 1.5 points on the cognitive test.
Although you might think the difference isn’t that noticeable, Elizabeth Eckstrom, one of the authors of the research, suggests it’s still relevant because you’ll be delaying cognitive decline for a long time.
According to the specialist, people who show signs of the disease can decrease by half a point each year on the Montreal cognitive test.
“If you are able to continue doing (tai chi) two or three days a week on a regular basis, it will still take you years before you reach that decline that leads to dementia,” explains the researcher.
Results were significantly better in volunteers who practiced Cognitive Enhanced Tai Ji Quan, as they managed to gain 3 points on the instrument, leading to additional years of cognitive function.
But how do you explain why tai chi is so beneficial in this area? For the expert, A possible answer could be that it is a physical activity where it is vital to memorize various postures and stretches. “You really force your brain to think hard while engaging in fluid movements of the mind and body,” he says.
Recently, a team of scientists from Jiao Tong University (China) published a study suggesting that This martial art could also slow the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease for several years, a type of disorder that causes tremors and slowed movements in those who suffer from it.
In addition to identifying that tai chi allowed the disease to progress more quickly, the researchers discovered that the volunteers experienced less pain and falls, in addition to having fewer difficulties with memory and concentration.