Age is just a number, and you can take steps to ensure it doesn’t . Exercising offers a host of benefits to elderly adults, including reduced weakness, blood pressure control, and a sharper brain. A simple addition to your fitness routine can ensure that you get even more benefits. A new study by a team of New England-based researchers shows that drinking more water can help you reap the full cognitive benefits of exercise.

The study explored the association between hydration before exercising, and exercise-enhanced cognition in older adults. One of the main concerns is that elderly people may often not realise that they are thirsty. “Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration and subsequently may reduce the cognitive health-related benefits of exercise,” said the researchers.

For the study, the researchers recruited recreational cyclists (average age 55) who participated in a large cycling event on a warm day (78-86 degrees F). The cyclists performed a “trail-making” executive function test — quickly and accurately connecting numbered dots using paper and pencil — before and after the event. Executive function includes the skills needed to plan, focus, remember and multi-task. Exercise has been shown to improve intellectual health, including executive function.

The normal hydration group showed noticeable improvement in the completion time when compared to their pre-cycling test. The dehydration group also completed their post-cycling test more quickly, but the time reduction was not significant. “Older adults should adopt adequate drinking behaviours to reduce cognitive fatigue and potentially enhance the cognitive benefits of regular exercise participation,” the researchers wrote.


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