Staying active in old age may help preserve your memory and thinking skills, a new study suggests, according to health24.
In fact, older people who were physically active kept their minds sharp, even if their brains showed signs of lesions or other markers linked to Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, researchers found.
"Physical activity may provide cognitive reserve" that helps preserve the brain even in the face of dementia, said lead researcher Dr Aron Buchman. He's professor of neurology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
Lifestyle appears to play a major role in keeping the mind sharp as we age, he said. Other studies have found that keeping socially and mentally active also improves mental skills.
"Together, these suggest that a more active lifestyle, including physical, cognitive and social activities, may help maintain cognition in older adults," Buchman said.
Buchman said he doesn't know how these factors protect the brain, what kind of exercise is best, or how much is protective. Only an association was seen in the study, and more research is needed.
"Even if we don't have treatments for Alzheimer's disease, there's a benefit to having a more active lifestyle that can protect [the brain]," Buchman said.
Keith Fargo, director of scientific programmes and outreach for the Alzheimer's Association, agreed.
"In some sense, we don't care why it works," he said. "That it works is good enough."