It is well known that maintaining a physically active lifestyle is beneficial to health, but new research shows a further advantage—older adults who walk or jog more often perform better on memory tasks than their sedentary counterparts. The study, published in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, implied that physical activity could prevent age-related memory decline and neurodegenerative dementias like Alzheimer’s disease.
Not enough physical activity was shown to have negative effects on memory functions. The participants of the study who took more steps daily performed better on memory tasks than those who were more sedentary. Furthermore, the association between number of steps taken and memory was greatest with a test that involved recalling a person’s name by seeing their face, which is the same type of information that older adults commonly have a problem remembering. What was interesting about the study was that young adult participants did not show the same association between number of steps and memory performance.
Older adults do not necessarily have to engage in formal exercise programs to reap the benefits. Simply walking or jogging more can be very beneficial. Residents in assisted living facilities and nursing homes should be given the opportunity to engage in physical activity on a daily basis.