It is very tempting to skip that morning run or gym session for those extra winks, but there is a new reason not to do that: cardio activities in your early adulthood has a direct link with better memory in middles ages.
According to a new study published in the April issue of Neurology, the medical journal of American Academy of Neurology, young adults who run or participate in other forms of cardio fitness activities may decrease loss of memory and thinking skills in middle age. When we are young and in our prime, we usually focus on just the cosmetic features of exercise, and tend to ignore the immense health benefits that it has. We focus even less on the effects of exercise on our cognitive abilities. The new research sheds light on this additional benefit.
The author of the research, David R. Jacobs, Jr. PhD with the University of Minnesota, explained that this study is aimed at reminding young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities like running, swimming, biking or even cardio fitness classes.
A total of 2,747 healthy people, with an average age of 25, were taken as a sample group for the study. These people underwent treadmill tests the first year of study, and then they were made to take these tests again 20 years later. Cognitive tests were performed on this group 25 years after the start of this study. These tests included: verbal memory, psychomotor speed (the relationship between thinking skills and physical movement) and executive function.
For the treadmill test, participants ran or walked as the speed and incline increased. They did that till the point they ran out of breath. In the first test, participants lasted around 10 minutes on average. When the same test was performed on the participants twenty years later, the average decreased by 2.9 minutes. The results showed that for every additional minute the participants completed on the treadmill during the first test, they recalled 0.12 more words correctly on a memory test of 15 words. In addition, they also correctly replaced 0.92 more numbers with meaningless symbols in the test of psychomotor speed 25 years later.
Another interesting finding of the study was that people who had smaller decreases in their time completed on the treadmill test 20 years later, had better performance on the executive function test as compared to those who had bigger decreases.
Even though cognitive differences in results between subjects were modest, researchers suggest that the memory-related tests used in the study correctly predict the presence of dementia later in life. In some of the tests undertaken in the study, an additional word recalled is associated with 18% lower risk of developing dementia in 10 years.
"These findings are likely to help us earlier identify and consequently prevent dementia or treat those at high risk of developing dementia," Jacobs said.
So when it comes to developing healthy exercise habits, the sooner you develop them the better! This way not only will you be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long-term, you will also preserve your thinking capabilities and reduce the risk of cognitive decline over the years.