Physical and mental multitasking may boost memory, study suggests
“Performing memory training exercises at the same time as pedaling a stationary bike led to better gains in memory than doing the training exercises after working up a sweat, according to a 55-person study led by UCLA researchers. The findings suggest that exercise may temporarily make it easier for the brain to create new memories…
The researchers used standard tests of memory, learning, concentration and attention to gauge the cognitive performance of 55 adults ages 60 through 75… Of the participants, 29 were assigned to a “simultaneous” group that attended twice-weekly classes where they received an hour of in-person memory training at the same time as they rode stationary bikes. A “sequential” group of 26 participants also attended twice-weekly classes but, unlike the first group, rode a bike for one hour before receiving the same memory training as the other group. In both groups, the memory training involved an instructor teaching common techniques to remember information.
After a four-week study period, the researchers repeated the cognitive tests on all participants, and found that while everyone had improved in certain abilities, people in the “simultaneous” group had greater improvements in a number of memory, reasoning and attention skills. In particular, they scored better on tests measuring how well they could recognize, remember and retrieve words and geometric figures.”
The Study:Simultaneous Aerobic Exercise and Memory Training Program in Older Adults with Subjective Memory Impairments (Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease). From the abstract:
- Background: Several modifiable lifestyle factors have been shown to have potential beneficial effects in slowing cognitive decline. Two such factors that may affect cognitive performance and slow the progression of memory loss into dementia in older adults are cognitive training and physical activity. There are currently no effective treatments for dementia; therefore, preventative strategies to delay or prevent the onset of dementia are of critical importance.
- Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of simultaneous performance of memory training and aerobic exercise to a sequential performance intervention on memory functioning in older adults.
- Conclusion: These findings indicate that a 4-week simultaneous memory training and aerobic exercise program is sufficient to improve memory, attention, and reasoning abilities in older adults.