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?

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

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

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

Common infections tied to some stroke risk in kids

16 hours ago

A new study suggests that colds and other minor infections may temporarily increase stroke risk in children. The study found that the risk of stroke was increased only within a three-day period between a ...

Celebrities in 'Ice Bucket Challenge' to fight disease

Aug 20, 2014

Steven Spielberg, Justin Bieber and Bill Gates are among many celebrities pouring buckets of ice water over their heads and donating to fight Lou Gehrig's disease, in a fundraising effort that has gone viral.

Study helps explain why elderly have trouble sleeping

Aug 20, 2014

As people grow older, they often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, and tend to awaken too early in the morning. In individuals with Alzheimer's disease, this common and troubling symptom ...

Targeted brain training may help you multitask better

Aug 20, 2014

The area of the brain involved in multitasking and ways to train it have been identified by a research team at the IUGM Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal and the University of Montreal.

User comments