Physical Activity and Cognition

Angie SzumlinskiNews

You are going to love this blog, I promise! I found a study that says, “greater physical activity was NOT associated with memory reserve for men or women.” I knew if I looked long enough, I would find someone to join my crusade of couch potato-ism! But hold on, not so fast, as always, there is a caveat! What the study did find is that if physical activity is increased 2-fold in women (so from nothing to taking a walk?), there was a marked increase in cognitive reserve, meaning that despite brain pathology, cognitive decline is slower in this population.  

Most of the studies we read today relate to physical activity and healthy aging. What this study focused on was both physical activity AND cognitive activity. Participants in the study group were in their 80s and led cognitively active lifestyles including reading and processing information, taking classes, and playing games. Amazingly, the study found that living a “cognitive active lifestyle” may delay the onset of dementia/Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 5 years!  

Although the study is limited as the data was “self-reported” which can be inaccurate at some level, it really does set a new goal for our aging population. If you are “sedentary” or limited due to physical decline, grab a crossword puzzle and pencil, bring out a deck of cards for solitaire, get your mind working! Sure, it won’t fix any physical decline, but it may preserve your cognitive capacity for years to come. Imagine, one day you might be the next Rubik’s Cube aficionado!  Stay the course, stay well, and stay informed!