Computer-exercise combo prevents memory loss

Washington: The time that you spend on your computer and moderate exercise seems to prevent memory loss more than carrying on with either of these activities alone, says a new study.

Previous studies have shown that exercising the body and mind does help memory but the new study shows that interaction between computer use and moderate exercise protects the brain in people as they get older.

Researchers studied 926 people aged 70 to 93 years, who completed questionnaires on physical exercise, and computer use within one year prior of the date of interview, the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings reports.

Moderate physical exercise was defined as brisk walking, hiking, aerobics, strength training, swimming, doubles tennis, yoga, martial arts, using exercise machines and weightlifting, according to a Mayo statement.

Mentally stimulating activities included reading, crafts, computer use, playing games, playing music, group and social and artistic activities and watching less TV.

Of those activities the study singled out computer use because of its popularity, said study author Yonas E. Geda, physician scientist with Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

"The aging of baby boomers is projected to lead to dramatic increases in the prevalence of dementia. 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," Geda said.

Of the 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 (MCI). Of the participants who both exercise and use a computer, 36 percent were cognitively normal and 18.3 percent showed signs of MCI.

MCI is the intermediate stage between normal memory loss that comes with aging and early Alzheimer's disease. The study co-authors include Ronald C. Petersen and others.

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