Older adults who had Type 2 Diabetes and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) often have a hard time remembering things and taking care of themselves because of their conditions.
In a new study, researchers looked at the effects of a special kind of exercise called tai chi chuan on cognitive decline.
Tai chi chuan is a type of exercise that involves slow, deliberate physical movements combined with meditation.
The researchers from the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine wanted to see if this type of exercise could improve the physical and cognitive markers in those with Type 2 Diabetes and MCI.
The participants were split into three groups: a tai chi chuan group, a fitness walking group, and a control group that did not change their lifestyle.
Each group attended an educational seminar on managing Type 2 Diabetes and the benefits of exercise.
The tai chi chuan and fitness walking groups exercised for 60 minutes, three times a week, under the supervision of a medical health professional.
The researchers measured the participants’ blood sugar levels and other metabolic markers, as well as their cognitive function using a scale called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA).
After 36 weeks, the researchers found that the tai chi chuan group showed more improvement in their physical and cognitive markers than the fitness walking group and the control group.
The tai chi chuan group had an average of 3.29 point improvement in MoCA score compared to the baseline, while the fitness walking group only improved by 2.32 points.
This study showed that tai chi chuan is an effective exercise program for improving the physical and cognitive markers in older adults with Type 2 Diabetes and MCI.
The researchers hope to establish a more scientific tai chi chuan training program for this population to decrease the incidence of progression to dementia.
While the study had some limitations, such as a short follow-up period and the possibility of bias due to the educational seminars, the results were promising.
Further research is needed to gain more insight into the benefits of tai chi chuan for other groups of people who would benefit from interventions that promote better physical and cognitive health.
How to prevent cognitive decline
Cognitive decline refers to the gradual loss of cognitive abilities, such as memory, language, perception, and problem-solving.
Although some degree of cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, there are many lifestyle factors and habits that can accelerate or slow down the decline. Here are some tips to help prevent cognitive decline:
Exercise regularly: Regular physical exercise can help improve blood flow to the brain and promote the growth of new brain cells, which can help maintain cognitive function.
Maintain a healthy diet: A healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats can help support brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Stay socially active: Social engagement, such as volunteering, joining a club, or participating in social activities, can help stimulate the brain and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough restorative sleep is essential for maintaining cognitive function. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and establish a regular sleep routine.
Manage stress: Chronic stress can damage the brain and accelerate cognitive decline. Practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help reduce stress and promote brain health.
Challenge your brain: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles, or learning a new skill can help improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Manage chronic conditions: Chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease can increase the risk of cognitive decline.
Managing these conditions through medication, lifestyle changes, or other treatments can help reduce the risk.
Overall, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, social engagement, adequate sleep, stress management, mental stimulation, and proper management of chronic conditions can help prevent cognitive decline and promote lifelong brain health.
If you care about brain health, please read studies about vitamin D deficiency linked to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and blood pressure problem at night may increase Alzheimer’s risk.
For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and BMI declines 7 years before cognitive impairment.
The study was conducted by Yannan Chen et al and published in JAMA Network Open.
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