Normal aging is associated with variable declines in perception and cognition, which may be mediated through active engagement in certain lifestyle activities. The aim of this review was to discuss the relationship between cognitive functioning in older adulthood and participation in various types of physical exercise and sports-playing activities. Most studies have focused on the beneficial effects of relatively nonspecific forms of aerobic physical activity, although some emerging evidence has suggested that more specific forms of sports-playing activities may confer greater cognitive benefit in specific areas of cognitive functioning. The evidence reviewed suggests the potential for simple lifestyle-related behaviors to mediate the cognitive decline often found in older adults, and to enhance the aging brain’s cognitive reserve. However, more work is needed in order to ascertain the variable outcomes of exercise type, duration, and frequency, and the cognitive effects of various sports activities.
Inga Sogaard and Rui Ni*
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