While many of us might see a card game or a shopping trip with friends as a simple diversion, these are activities that may help preserve the physical and mental health of the elderly. New studies have found that little or no social activity may cause cognitive function and motor function, like walking abilities, to decline much quicker than the functions of those who participate in social activities. The study also showed that physical activity could protect against mental decline, because it releases a protein in the brain that keeps neural connections alive. Researchers discovered that there is a connection between social activity and exercise: many of the participants in the study who had remained socially active were also physically active. This might relate to the findings that social activity increases motor functions, researchers believe. In fact, Dr. Joe Verghese of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York says, “The idea that cognitive and physical function are connected…is one of the new horizons in health care and prevention.” While more research needs to be done on this subject, these findings may help physicians and families to better protect the elderly against physical and mental decline through simply encouraging social activity.