研究小組評估了一百四十名年齡由56至78的本地長者，並對他們作詳細的體力活動及認知能力測試。透過長者的問卷回覆，研究小組將長者分別為四個組別 ─ 身心運動組（Mind-Body），即長者有進行太極、八段錦及六通拳等活動，心肺運動組（Cardiovascular），即長者有進行游泳、跑步、跳舞、行山及球類等活動，身心運動加心肺運動組，即長者兩類運動均有進行，另外無運動組。研究小組會測試四組長者的精神狀態、記憶能力及語言能力。
香港中文大學心理學系及精神科學系合作的研究結果已在今期的《美國老人科學會學報》（Journal of American Geriatrics Society）上刊登。
CUHK Research Shows Positive Effect of Exercises on Memory in Older Adults
Memory decline is a prominent feature in the preclinical stage of dementia. Therefore, memory decline is usually regarded as an early marker of dementia. Statistics showed that there were 818,800 adults aged over 65 in Hong Kong in 2004, constituting 11.9% of the total population. There are around 30,000 dementia patients in Hong Kong. The economic burden of these patients on both the government and individual family is huge, considering each patient needs at least HK$6,000 a year for drugs to alleviate the ailment.
Identifying factors that can protect against memory decline or development of dementia becomes significant. Studies in the west show that cardiovascular (CV) exercise, such as jogging and swimming, may help protect the memory of older adults. However, the effect of Mind-body (MB) exercises such as Tai Chi is not known. A joint research was conducted by the Department of Psychology and Department of Psychiatry to explore the effects of CV and MB exercises on the memory of older adults. The findings were reported by Professor Chan Sui Yin, Agnes of Psychology and Professor Lam Chiu Wa, Linda of Psychiatry at a press conference today.
A total of 140 adults aged 56 and 78 participated in the research. They were divided into four groups according to their exercise level. The four groups are: Mind-Body (MB) Group – those who regularly practice Tai Chi, Baduanjin, Lutungquan, etc.; Cardiovascular (CV) Group – those who regularly practice swimming, jogging, dancing, ball games, etc.; Mind-Body and Cardiovascular (MB + CV) Group – those who practice both MB and CV exercises; and No exercise (NO) Group. These groups of adults were tested of their general mental function, memory and language functions.
Results showed that older adults who practiced MB or CV exercises demonstrated a similar level of memory function, and their learning and memory was better than that of individuals who did not exercise regularly. Those who performed MB exercises have similar or better cognitive functions as compared with those who practiced CV exercises. Those who practiced both types of exercises outperformed all other groups, especially in memory and language functions.
Professor Agnes Chan concluded that practicing both MB and CV exercises appeared to have a combined effect that might help to preserve memory in older adults. In addition, MB exercises may be considered as an alternative training for older adults who cannot practice strenuous physical exercise. Professor Chan recommended elder adults to practice 30 minutes of MB exercise like Tai Chi, and another 15 minutes of CV exercise like dancing or jogging a day.
The research paper of the CUHK team has now been published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.