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Cardiorespiratory fitness may improve the memory in older populations

Posted:  Monday, January 05, 2015

Want to have a good memory and cognitive ability even in old age? Then maintaining good heart and lung health is important say researchers from Boston University Medical Centre.

The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, examines the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), memory and cognition in young and older adults. Researchers compared 33 young adults (age 18–31) and 27 older adults (age 55–82) with a wide range of cardiorespiratory levels.

They completed an exercise testing to assess their cardio-respiratory function and neuropsychological testing to assess their memory, planning and problem-solving abilities. In addition, participants had to do a laboratory task in which they had to learn face-name associations.

The researchers found that older participants reporting higher cardio-respiratory levels indicating good fitness performed as well as young adults in executive functions such as problem solving, planning and organizing. Thus in older levels, better physical fitness levels were associated with improved executive function, and memory.

"Our findings that CRF may mitigate age-related cognitive decline is appealing for a variety of reasons, including that aerobic activities to enhance CRF (walking, dancing, etc) are inexpensive, accessible and could potentially improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging independent function," said lead author Scott Haynes.

The process of aging is usually characterised by a decline in the executive functions. However, if the encouraging results of the present study are anything to go by, then ensuring optimum physical activity would mean better memory and other cognitive functions too.

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