Exercise Helps Slow Memory Loss

Exercise Helps Slow Memory Loss

The great study below published in an excellent peer-reviewed paper shows that a group of patients who had mild cognitive impairment (ie, early memory loss) who walked 3x per week and gradually increased intensity for 6 months, did better on memory tests compared to a similar group who did not exercise.

The study did not specifically help those patients with severe memory/cognitive loss, but if such a patient can exercise safely, it is likely exercise helps as well: hopefully a well conducted study will show the benefit in these patients as well soon.

Another reason to keep working on your backstroke!

As always, I would recommend the following to keep your memory working well for the long term:
1. A no sugar/low carbohydrate diet as we had some evidence that increased sugar intake damages brain cells more rapidly (remember that carbohydrates are essentially sugar in the body)
2. Eat plenty of anti-oxidants especially in green-leafy veggies
3. Get at least 7-8hr of sleep a day
4. Pray daily or meditate. My favorite is daily mass: many components of concentration, perseverance, exercise needed to get to daily mass every day.
5. Do not smoke or be around smokers ever.
6. Study: learn a new subject, do crossword puzzels, sort socks!
7. Exercise: the study below shows what we have suspected for years, good exercise helps boost memory. Start with at least 10,000 steps a day as a minimum. If one cannot walk, then consider a stationary bike, swimming movements even in a wheelchair is possible.

Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS

 2016 Oct 19. pii: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000003332. [Epub ahead of print]

Aerobic exercise and vascular cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial.

Author information

  • 1Author affiliations are provided at the end of the article. teresa.ambrose@ubc.ca.



To assess the efficacy of a progressive aerobic exercise training program on cognitive and everyday function among adults with mild subcortical ischemic vascular cognitive impairment (SIVCI).


This was a proof-of-concept single-blind randomized controlled trial comparing a 6-month, thrice-weekly, progressive aerobic exercise training program (AT) with usual care plus education on cognitive and everyday function with a follow-up assessment 6 months after the formal cessation of aerobic exercise training. Primary outcomes assessed were general cognitive function (Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive subscale [ADAS-Cog]), executive functions (Executive Interview [EXIT-25]), and activities of daily living (Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study-Activities of Daily Living [ADCS-ADL]).


Seventy adults randomized to aerobic exercise training or usual care were included in intention-to-treat analyses (mean age 74 years, 51% female, n = 35 per group). At the end of the intervention, the aerobic exercise training group had significantly improved ADAS-Cog performance compared with the usual care plus education group (-1.71 point difference, 95% confidence interval [CI] -3.15 to -0.26, p = 0.02); however, this difference was not significant at the 6-month follow-up (-0.63 point difference, 95% CI -2.34 to 1.07, p = 0.46). There were no significant between-group differences at intervention completion and at the 6-month follow-up in EXIT-25 or ADCS-ADL performance. Examination of secondary measures showed between-group differences at intervention completion favoring the AT group in 6-minute walk distance (30.35 meter difference, 95% CI 5.82 to 54.86, p = 0.02) and in diastolic blood pressure (-6.89 mm Hg difference, 95% CI -12.52 to -1.26, p = 0.02).


This study provides preliminary evidence for the efficacy of 6 months of thrice-weekly progressive aerobic training in community-dwelling adults with mild SIVCI, relative to usual care plus education.




This study provides Class II evidence that for adults with mild SIVCI, an aerobic exercise program for 6 months results in a small, significant improvement in ADAS-Cog performance.
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