We know exercise can be a cure-all for a great many illnesses and conditions. Now, there’s new research that indicates working out could help people with memory deficiencies.

Dementia Research

Wake Forest School of Medicine researchers found that aerobic exercise boosts brain volume and thinking skills in adults diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. This condition is not as severe as dementia but more concerning than typical age-related memory loss.

Researchers studied a small group of participants and found adding stretching to their routines also had some benefits, but not as much as full-on exercise.

Scientists took a look at brain volume and shape changes in parts of the brain. Both help track the likelihood of developing dementia.

Exercising to Sharpen Memory

Researchers had participants stretch, walk on a treadmill, cycle on a stationary bike and use an elliptical machine over a period of six months. Afterwards, scientists examined the MRI scans of the participants. In both the stretching and exercising groups, researchers found increases in gray matter sections of the brain. The people who ramped up their workouts to the bikes, elliptical machines and treadmills fared better.

Those who did aerobics also had gains in the areas of improved thinking and problem solving.

The Results

The results indicate aerobic exercise “could preserve or possibly even improve brain volumes” in people with early cognitive problems. Another study found walking just a mile each day could decrease the risk for developing Alzheimer’s by up to 48 percent.

The Takeaway

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend older adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking, each week. The CDC also suggests muscle-strengthening exercises for all major muscle groups. If possible, an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise is even better.

Those exercises will help build or maintain bone strength, bone density and balance and coordination. Exercise also reduces falling risks and can help seniors maintain independent lifestyles.

The key is to get moving and never stop.