Older adults who get daily social and physical activity -- even for brief periods -- sleep better and have improved cognition, says a Northwestern University study in the Dec. 15 issue of Sleep.
"Many of the health changes associated with aging, including the decline in sleep and cognitive abilities, can be attributed to sedentary lifestyles and social disengagement among older individuals," lead researcher Susan Benloucif, an associate professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurological Sciences at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.
"Evidence suggests that maintenance of social engagement and avoidance of social isolation are important factors in maintaining cognitive vitality in old age," Benloucif said.
The study of 12 health older men and women between 67 and 86 years old found that 14 weeks of a daily 90-minute social and physical activity program improved cognitive performance by 4 percent to 6 percent, and also improved sleep quality.
The daily sessions included 30 minutes of stretching, walking, and stationary upper and lower body exercises. That was followed by 30 minutes of social interaction. The final 30 minutes consisted of mild to moderate physical activity such as rapid walking, calisthenics, or dancing. That was followed by a 10-minute cool-down.
The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about older adults and exercise.