Can Exercise Improve Memory?

Featuring Robert B. Sica, Ph.D.

The ancillary benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise are hardly a secret.

Numerous studies have shown that 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity three-five days a week can effectively combat depression, alleviate anxiety and improve overall mood.

But can a program of moderate exercise help maintain - or even improve - cognitive functions?

A recent study by the National Institute on Aging found that regular physical activity can help maintain our strength of cognition and memory throughout the aging process.

“Starting an exercise program now and continuing it throughout your life can have significant benefits for both your physical and mental health,” says Robert B. Sica, Ph.D., of Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Study participants included 1,400 men and women who participated a series of memory and cognition tests, repeated up to six times over 18 years.

"This finding is significant considering that among adults 50 and older, 'staying mentally sharp' outranks social security and physical health as the top priority and concern in the United States."

Researchers found that older adults with a higher fitness level when they were younger made significantly fewer errors on memory tests than those with lower fitness levels earlier in life.