Computer use and exercise combo may reduce the odds of having memory loss

You think your computer has a lot of memory … if you keep using your computer you may, too.

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, a Mayo Clinic study shows. Previous studies have shown that exercising your body and your mind will help your memory but the new study, published in the May 2012 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, reports a synergistic interaction between computer activities and moderate exercise in "protecting" the brain function in people better than 70 years old.

Researchers studies 926 people in Olmsted County, Minn., ages 70 to 93, who completed self-reported questionnaires on physical exercise, and computer use within one year prior of the date of interview. 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. Of those activities the study singled out computer use because of its popularity, said study author Yonas E. Geda, M.D., MSc, a physician scientist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

"The aging of baby boomers is projected to lead to dramatic increases in the prevalence of dementia," Dr. Geda said. "As frequent computer use has becoming increasingly common among all age groups, it is important to examine how it relates to aging and dementia. Our study further adds to this discussion."

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 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.

Dr. Geda expects that this study will lead to more research on this topic.

Related Stories

Can exercising your brain prevent memory loss?

date Feb 17, 2009

Participating in certain mental activities, like reading magazines or crafting in middle age or later in life, may delay or prevent memory loss, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy ...

Study finds mild cognitive impairment is more common in men

date Sep 06, 2010

A new Mayo Clinic study found that the prevalence of mild cognitive impairment was 1.5 times higher in men than in women. The research, part of the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, also showed a prevalence rate of 16 percent in ...

Overeating may double risk of memory loss

date Feb 12, 2012

New research suggests that consuming between 2,100 and 6,000 calories per day may double the risk of memory loss, or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), among people age 70 and older. The study was released today and will be ...

Recommended for you

Unlearning implicit social biases during sleep

date 32 minutes ago

Can we learn to rid ourselves of our implicit biases regarding race and gender? A new Northwestern University study indicates that sleep may hold an important key to success in such efforts.

Deciphering dark and bright

date 32 minutes ago

The human sensory systems contend with enormous diversity in the natural world. But it has been known for a long time the brain is adapted to exploit statistical regularities that nonetheless arise amongst this diversity. ...

How we make emotional decisions

date 2 hours ago

Some decisions arouse far more anxiety than others. Among the most anxiety-provoking are those that involve options with both positive and negative elements, such choosing to take a higher-paying job in a ...

Can we cure Huntington's disease?

date 4 hours ago

I didn't cry until page 123 of Lisa Genova's terrific new novel Inside the O'Briens. That's when 44-year-old Boston police officer Joe O'Brien tells his four young adult offspring that his "weird temper"; ...

Poor diet can cause Alzheimer's or Parkinson's in rats

date 5 hours ago

For several years, a researcher fed rodents in his laboratory a high caloric diet with glucose concentrations, which resulted in diabetes. By scientifically assessing what occurred in rats, Samuel Treviño ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.