One of the key aspects of our brains that we pray never leaves us is memory. Of course, memory can be impacted with the onset of dementia or Alzheimers disease as some of us age. Loss of memory is a scary proposition.
My mom, who is 76 is always online flexing her memory muscles by completing different types of puzzles online and playing games. But stories put forth by other family members indicate that she does have memory lapses.
There have been a variety of how-to books written and courses sold on the topic of improving one’s memory.
I’ve also read that exercising regularly helps with memory. After all, exercising keeps fresh oxygenated blood flowing to the brain. In addition, exercising requires mental focus and agility to make sure you accomplish the tasks at hand.
So it raises the question. Which is better for improving memory, mental activity or physical activity?
Go ahead, take a guess.
Ok, here’s the scoop. First of all, there have not been many studies performed to arrive at a definitive answer. But in a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a group older citizens were put to the test.
They were divided into 4 groups. The first group performed intensive mental and physical activities. Group two performed intensive mental work, but only light physical activity. Group three watched educational videos and did intensive physical exercise. Finally, group four watched videos and performed light stretching activity.
So which group do you think had better memory improvement after 12 weeks?
I’ll bet you said, it’s the group that went all out with intensive mental and physical activities. You’d be right, sort of.
What the researchers actually found is that all of the groups experienced memory improvement, and the level of improvement between them was not significant.
Based on this limited study. the conclusion was that your memory can improve by stimulating the brain using either or both types of activities.
But in another study of individuals in their 70’s showed that physical exercise prevents the brain from shrinking and developing certain brain lesions that are associated with dementia.
Again, there has not been a whole lot of research done in this area. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some of the benefits that have been uncovered.
As I mentioned, exercise protects the brain. What this means is that you should put your body in motion. If you aren’t impaired, then find an exercise program that’s right for you. Then get to where you’re averaging 30 minutes of exercise daily.
On top of that, do crossword puzzles and play games to keep your brain and mind agile, and maintain good mental health.
But the thing to remember is that you should do these things consistently. Doing them once a week will do you no good.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it.”. Yes, I’m talking about your brain and its amazing abilities.