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Exercise Improves Memory, New Study Finds

Rebecca Dancer |
October 2, 2012 | 10:24 a.m. PDT


Exercise improves memory, study finds. (Creative Commons/Pixabay)
Exercise improves memory, study finds. (Creative Commons/Pixabay)
A study presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress shows that just six months of exercise can improve memory, language, judgement and thinking problems by almost 50 percent.

Researchers in Toronto, Canada found that among patients who had suffered from a stroke, the percentage of those with mild cognitive impairment dropped from 66 percent to 37 percent during the study, which measured the impact of exercise on brain function. 

Lead researcher of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Susan Marzolini, says, “If we can improve cognition through exercise, which also has many physical benefits, then this should become a standard of care for people following stroke.”

The patients in the study followed an adapted aerobic and strength/resistance training program five days a week, including exercises designed to imitate daily life such as walking, lifting weights and doing squats.  Of these 41 patients, 70 percent had mild to moderate walking problems requiring a cane or walker.

Researchers found there were “significant improvements” in overall brain function at the end of the experiment.  The most improvement was in attention, concentration, planning and organizing.  Muscular strength and walking ability were also improved.

The study did not use a control group of subjects who didn’t exercise, but Marzolini says the results “provide compelling evidence that by improving cardiovascular fitness through aerobic exercise and increasing muscle mass with resistance training, people with stroke can improve brain health.”

She also emphasizes the need to give stroke patients access to exercise programs, saying these “modified exercise programs are desperately needed.”

Dr. Mark Bayley, co-chair of the Canadian Stroke Congress and medical director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Program at Toronto Rehab, adds, “these healthy lifestyle studies emphasize how important it is to exercise and stay active after stroke.”

The Canadian Stroke Congress is also hosted by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Stroke Consortium. 


Reach Contributor Rebecca Dancer here.



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