Rise Early and Stay Active

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  This Old English proverb encouraging a hard day’s labour to yield a good life may still hold true in modern society even when getting up with the rooster is not a necessity of daily life.  A new study shows that older adults who are early risers perform better on tests of memory and thinking than those who keep a more “relaxed” daily routine.   Seniors who normally rise before 7 a.m. were also less likely to have depressive symptoms.

According to a recent U.S. News report, the study findings, recently published online in JAMA Psychiatry included 1,800 adults with an average age of 73 years.  The study participants wore activity monitors on their wrists to track how much they moved around each day.  Questionnaires also evaluated depression symptoms and cognition, including memory and thinking abilities. 

Seniors with the most robust activity patterns; rising before 7 a.m. and staying active over a 15-hour period showed the least risk for cognitive impairment and were less likely to have a clinically significant depression score compared with groups that were less active, sleeping later in the morning or settling down earlier at night. 

Staying both physically and socially engaged throughout the day is key to maintaining good health and well-being in older age.  Playing brain games can help the aging brain stay sharp, but conversation with others is also important to help prevent isolation, loneliness and depression. Keeping a busy, active daily schedule can help promote both physical and emotional health.  

For those who have become more sedentary, it’s best to slowly increase activity levels over time.  Keeping a regular sleep schedule, and maintaining physical activity throughout the day can help boost health and well-being.  A short walk several times a day, gardening, cleaning the house, golfing, cycling or swimming can all count towards better health.  Bonus points if you enlist a friend or two to join in the fun!  Talk to your doctor first before starting any new exercise program or if you have persistent depressive symptoms.