“Our findings that physical activity is positively associated with memory is appealing for a variety of reasons,” said corresponding author of the study, Scott Hayes from the Boston University School of Medicine in the US.
“Everyone knows that physical activity is a critical component to ward off obesity and cardiovascular-related disease. Knowing that a lack of physical activity may negatively impact one’s memory abilities will be an additional piece of information to motivate folks to stay more active,” Hayes noted.
The study included 31 older adults (ages 55-82) who wore a small device called an ActiGraph, which recorded information including how many steps each took, how vigorous the steps were and how much time it involved.
The association between the number of steps taken was strongest with a task that required recalling which name went with a person’s face – the same type of everyday task that the older adults often have difficulty with.
These findings demonstrate that the effects of physical activity extend to long-term memory, the researchers said.
The study appeared online in the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.