With maturity comes some cognitive declines. But a few sports might provide enough of a mental challenge to curb that age-related wear and tear, a study finds.
Researchers focused on young and old fencers to see if the activity was effective in counteracting some cognitive deterioration that happens to people as they age. Fencing was chosen because it's considered an open-skill sport, one in which players have to adapt their movements due to a changing environment -- in this case, a constantly moving opponent.
The study authors added that players must make quick decisions while engaged in the sport, and there's a great deal of emphasis placed on visual attention and flexibility. The sport trains a number of cognitive functions, including planning, cognitive flexibility, initiating appropriate actions and holding back inappropriate actions.
Forty participants were divided into four groups: 10 older fencers (average age about 50), 10 younger fencers (average age about 24), and 10 older and younger non-athletes who were matched for age and other demographic characteristics.