Exercise, keep your memory sharp after 50

September 4th, 2008 - 11:08 am ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 4 (IANS) Worried about memory loss, especially when you cross the age of 50? Stop worrying. Medical experts have advised a daily routine of only 20 minutes of simple exercise to keep your memory healthy and sharp. A team from the West Australian Centre for Health and Ageing (WACHA) has shown that regular physical activity can lead to a lasting improvement in memory function.

WACHA director Leon Flicker said “what our trial tells us is that older people who take up some form of aerobic exercise for as little as 20 minutes a day will be more likely to remember things like shopping lists, family birthdays and friend’s names.

“People don’t have to run a marathon to get the benefits - it’s as simple as doing some forms of simple activity like walking or dancing, every day for around 20 minutes.

“The results of this trial are very encouraging and a great step forward in helping older people improve their memory and potentially delay the progression of dementia which can eventually lead to Alzheimer’s disease.”

The results were published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association Wednesday.

Today, almost 190,000 people in Australia live with dementia. The number is expected to increase with an ageing population, and one in four for people over the age of 85 have moderate to severe dementia.

“What’s interesting about this study is that physical activity doesn’t just have benefits for memory and preventing Alzheimer’s disease, it highlights the importance of exercise to boost overall wellbeing and mental health,” Flicker added.

“We all know that exercise can help ward off physical conditions like heart disease and obesity and assist in overall wellbeing and fitness but this study adds another compelling reason to that list.”

During the trial, 170 volunteers aged 50 years and over were divided into two groups, a control and a group which undertook to achieve a 150 minutes of activity each week, ranging from walking, ballroom dancing to swimming, for a six month period.

Participant cognition was tested during intervals over an 18 month period - those who took part in physical activity continually out-scored the control group, which actually reported an overall decline in cognition.

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