A combination of moderate physical exercise and computer use late in life may help protect against the memory loss of mild cognitive impairment, a new study suggests.
The study shows that both physical exercise and mental exercises such as reading books, playing games, and computer use are associated with a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment; a combination of these activities appears to pack a one-two punch that is even more beneficial.
“Our study found that engaging in physical exercise at any frequency, once a week or five times a week, and engaging in mental activities, computer use in particular, appear to have a joint effect in protecting against mild cognitive impairment,” says Yonas Geda, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Still, the study does not prove cause and effect, cautions Ron Peterson, MD, another Mayo Clinic researcher who worked on the study.
“It could be that people who engage in physical and mental exercise are less likely to show cognitive decline. Or maybe a person with cognitive decline is less likely to exercise and use computers,” he tells WebMD.
The only way to know for sure is to follow people who engage in these activities and see if they have less mental decline over time a study that others are undertaking, Peterson says.
“Before you embark on such a study, you want to make sure there is a hint it will work, and that is what our study does,” he says.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
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