New research is suggesting that if you want a sharp memory as you enter your golden years, get moving!
Researchers at Harvard Medical School studied the effect that physical activity had on the rate of mental decline in about 2,800 women 65 and older. Participants reported how often and how vigorously they exercised. The participants who exercised the most had considerably lower rates of memory lapses than those who were not active on a regular basis.
Another study that involved both men and women around the age of 75 found similar results. Only 2 percent of participants who exercised regularly suffered memory lapses.
So how much exercise should you be getting as you get older? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following for adults 65 or older with no existing health conditions:
• 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking or riding a bike, every week.
• Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, shoulders, and arms.
Riding your bike a few days a week may help prevent memory loss as you age.
Photo by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Courtesy Flickr
That may sound like a lot to fit into your schedule. However, simple activities such as pushing a lawn mower or biking to the store can improve your physical health. Joining an exercise class, such as aerobic dance, can also help fill your exercise quota for the week, and you can have fun with friends at the same time.
Still not feeling motivated to make exercise a part of your daily life? According to the National Institute on Aging, regular exercise can directly impact your day-to-day life. The more you exercise, the stronger you are, and the more likely you are to stay healthy enough to perform your daily activities and maintain your independence.
If exercise is already penciled into your weekly schedule, there are many other actions you can take to help keep your memory strong. The National Institute on Aging gives the following tips:
• Learn a new skill.
• Volunteer in your community, at a school, or at your place of worship.
• Spend time with friends and family.
• Use memory tools such as big calendars, to-do lists, and notes to yourself.
• Put your wallet or purse, keys, and glasses in the same place each day.
• Get lots of rest.
• Eat well.
• Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
• Get help if you feel depressed for weeks at a time.