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Exercise may avoid memory decline

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According to a new research, exercise might benefit the elderly people who have memory and thinking problems.

People with vascular cognitive impairment were involved in the research. Vascular cognitive impairment is the state of problems with memory and thinking skills result from damage to large and small blood vessels in the brain. It is the second most common cause of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.

The study author, Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PT, PhD of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada stated that “Studies have shown that exercise can help reduce the risk of developing memory problems, but few studies have looked at whether it can help people who already have these problems get better or keep from getting worse,”.

About 70 people who had mild vascular cognitive impairment, with age group of 74 were involved in the study. One half of the participants took part in one-hour exercise classes three times a week for six months. The other half had a healthy diet, but no information on physical activity.

Every participant was tested before the study started, at the end of the study and again six months later. The tests include overall thinking skills, executive function skills such as planning and organizing and how they can accomplish their daily activities.

Effects of exercise

Participants who exercised improved on overall thinking skills compared to those who did not exercise. People who took exercise classes had 1.7 points high in their scores than other half.

“This result, while modest, was similar to that seen in previous studies testing the use of drugs for people with vascular cognitive impairment,” Liu-Ambrose mentioned. “However, the difference was less than what is considered to be the minimal clinically important difference of three points.”

The exercise program stopped after six months; their scores were no different than those who did not exercise. Also, there was no difference between their tests.  Participants who exercised also improved in their blood pressure and a physical activity test of how far they could walk in six minutes. The test of walking used to measure the participants overall cardiovascular capacity.

Liu-Ambrose stated, More studies are needed to determine whether exercise can improve thinking abilities in people with mild vascular cognitive impairment. Because the study sample size was based on detecting a difference on the overall thinking skills test, large samples might be needed to detect differences in specific thinking abilities, such as planning, and everyday skills, such as managing one’s finances.