Not exercising is often sited as one reason for the increase now in type 2 diabetes, heart disease and breast and colon cancer. Now memory loss is another item to add to this list of reasons to get up and get sweaty.
Researchers at my old alma mater, Michigan State University, have found that the lower the fitness level, the higher the inability to form long term memories. Aerobic exercise is good for the brain.
Admittedly, the researchers conducted only a small scale study involving 75 people over a two day period. The test subjects fitness levels were tested on treadmills to see how each participant absorbed oxygen and by factoring in each participants weight, body fat levels, age and sex. The researchers were surprised by the participants overall low fitness levels.
In other words, kids, get off your duffs and do something. Time maybe to give up the Xbox and get a bicycle and go for a ride. I know there is winter there in East Lansing, but I rode my bike in the winter across campus and I manged to live to tell the tale.
The study asked the participants to study word pairs, two words that have some association to one another, on the first day. On the second day, the participants were brought back to see what memories they retained.
For the record, the study defined long term memory as recall of anything learned more than 30 seconds previously. That does not sound terribly long term to me, but whatever.
Quite simply, fitter students remembered more. Kimberly Fenn, a co-author of the study and an assistant professor of psychology, said
The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time.
What made this memory study different is that its subjects were young and considered relatively healthy.
Studies testing memory are usually done the very young and the elderly and these studies show that exercise aids in memory retention.
The study raises the fear that as our famously out-of-shape flabby youth age, memory issues will be popping up earlier than before.
What to do? Make our sedentary lifestyle unsedentary, obviously. Do some sort of aerobic exercise. Ride, walk, run, whatever, for at least 150 minutes a week. It keeps the brain sharp.
The first thing that entered my mind with I read this is this from couple of years ago. Alzheimer’s is a kind of diabetes, type 3 for those keeping score. Related? Don’t know, but my guess is yes.