Taking steps to preserve thinking skills and memory through physical and mental activity has different benefits depending on whether you’re male or female, new research has shown.
A study was conducted to investigate how activities such as reading, playing games, going to class, and walking can affect cognitive reserve – a buffer created when a person has strong thinking skills, despite their brain showing signs of cognitive decline and show dementia.
The study looked at the areas of thinking speed and memory, and found that they were affected differently depending on whether someone was a brand or a woman.
Study author Dr. Judy Pa, of the University of California, said: “We found that more physical activity was associated with a greater thinking speed reserve in women, but not in men. Participating in more mental activities was associated with a greater thinking speed reserve for both men and women. “
In both men and women, increased physical activity was not linked to memory reserve.
Just under 760 people took part in the study. The mean age of the group was 76 and included participants with no memory problems, some with mild disabilities and some with dementia.
The study included brain scans and memory and thinking speed tests. To calculate cognitive reserve, the thinking test scores were held up with the changes in the brain associated with dementia.
The participants were asked to write down every physical activity they engaged in during the week and were asked about any mental activity they might have done — reading, playing cards or bingo, or attending classes.
dr. Pa said that any additional mental activity participants undertook reduced the years of aging in their thinking ability — 17 years for men and 10 years for women.
Dr Pa said: “As we have demonstrably little to no effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, prevention is crucial. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.
“It’s very exciting to know that people can potentially improve their cognitive reserve by taking simple steps, such as going to classes at the community center, playing bingo with their friends, or spending more time walking or gardening.”
The team said based on the research, women who doubled the amount of physical activity they do can reduce the aging of their thinking abilities by 2.75 years.
The study is published in the journal Neurology.