Drink More to Think Faster, Study Shows

We all know how important it is to drink plenty of water, but a new study shows that this is even more true in the aging population. In addition, older people don’t feel the need to drink to the same extent as younger folks, which can make exercising less effective, especially for them.

“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, and colleagues.

The effects of dehydration, especially related to exercise performance and brain function has been well documented in young people, but not much has been done to study the effects of dehydration on the older population.

In this new study recreational bicyclists whose average age was 55 took part in a large cycling event. The day was warm, between 78 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Before the event began the researchers divided the cyclists into two groups: normal hydration and dehydration, and tested them.

The researchers tested the participants in their timed-thinking skills before and after the event. The well-hydrated participants completed the test much more quickly at the end of the event than those in the dehydration group who did not show much 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.