Active seniors, drink up: you’ll need plenty of water during exercise for your brain to get the full benefits of working out, researchers suggest.
“Middle-age and older adults often display a blunted thirst perception, which places them at risk for dehydration, and subsequently may reduce the cognitive [mental] health-related benefits of exercise,” said Brandon Yates, of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston.
Past studies have shown dehydration reduces exercise performance and brain function in young people, but its impact on older adults is still unclear.
The new study involved recreational bicyclists, average age 55, who took part in a large cycling event on a warm day (78 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Before the race, researchers divided them into two groups: dehydrated and normal hydration.
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Next, the cyclists performed a timed thinking-skills test before the ride, and again after. Those in the normal hydration group completed the test much faster after the ride than before, while the dehydration group showed insignificant improvement.
“This suggests that older adults should adopt adequate drinking behaviors to reduce cognitive fatigue and potentially enhance the cognitive benefits of regular exercise participation,” the researchers wrote in a news release from the American Physiological Society.
The study was presented Sunday at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting, in San Diego.
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