Fitness professionals should let clients know that managing high blood pressure is good, not just for the heart, but also for the brain. Middle-aged and older adults with high blood pressure scored worse on a number of mental-performance tests than people of the same age with normal blood pressure. Researchers also found that those with well-managed hypertension performed better than those who managed their hypertension poorly, according to research results published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2005; 29 [3], 174–80).

Researchers evaluated 101 healthy older adults, ages 53–84. Of these, 29 percent were diagnosed with hypertension. All subjects took tests that assessed their nonverbal memory, motor speed and manual dexterity.

In addition to evidence showing that hypertension is related to a loss of mental faculties, growing research data indicate that the progression of cardiovascular disease is related to a decline in cognitive function. In light of the current study’s findings, the researchers have recommended that more attention be paid to the screening, assessment and control of blood pressure in older adults.

“The most wonderful thing in the world is water. . . . Don’t make everything too hard. If you do, the body will ultimately be weak.”

—Rodney Yee, master yoga teacher, speaking at the 2005 IDEA World Fitness Convention®