A Mayo Clinic study shows combining mentally stimulating activities, such as using a computer, with moderate exercise decreases your odds of having memory loss more than computer use or exercise alone.
The new study, published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, reports a synergistic interaction between computer activities and moderate exercise in maintaining brain function in people better than 70 years old.
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Moderate physical exercise was defined as brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, golfing without a golf cart, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, using exercise machines and weightlifting.
Mentally stimulating activities included reading, crafts, computer use, playing games, playing music, group and social and artistic activities and watching less television.
The study singled out computer use because of its popularity, said study author Yonas E. Geda, M.D., Associate Professor of Neurology and a coinvestigator of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The study examined exercise, computer use and the relationship to neurological risks such as mild cognitive impairment, Dr. Geda says. Mild cognitive impairment is the intermediate stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer’s disease.
Of the study participants who did not exercise and did not use a computer, 20.1 percent were cognitively normal and 37.6 percent showed signs of mild cognitive impairment. Of the participants who both exercise and use a computer, 36 percent were cognitively normal and 18.3 percent showed signs of MCI.
In an earlier study “Physical Exercise as a Preventive or Disease-Modifying Treatment of Dementia and Brain Aging” Dr. Geda and colleagues note: “These data suggest that aerobic exercise is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia; it may slow dementing illness.” and “Thus, ongoing, moderate-intensity physical exercise should be considered as a prescription for lowering cognitive risks and slowing cognitive decline across the age spectrum.”
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Mayo Clin Proc. 2011 Sep;86(9):876-84. “Physical exercise as a preventive or disease-modifying treatment of dementia and brain aging.” Ahlskog JE, Geda YE, Graff-Radford NR, Petersen RC. Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.