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Preventing Memory Loss: Computers Combined With Exercise Helps, Says Study

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PREVENTING MEMORY LOSS
Those who use computers and exercise moderately are better protected against memory loss, a new Mayo Clinic study has found. | Shutterstock

Keep typing and take a walk every day to prevent memory loss -- that's the message behind the Mayo Clinic's most recent study about brain function.

"We know that physical exercise is independently associated with cognitive function, and in 2010, our group reported that moderate physical exercise seemed to be beneficial as well," Dr. Yonas Geda, an associate professor of neurology and psychology and a physician scientist with the Mayo Clinic, told The Huffington Post Canada. "So we asked a simple question - how about if we combine the two?"

The study looked at the computer usage and physical activity of 926 people, ages 70 to 93, and assessed whether or not the subjects were experiencing mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a stage defined by professionals as being between normal aging and more pronounced form of dementia.

For the subjects who neither exercised nor used a computer, 20.1 per cent were cognitively normal and 37.6 per cent showed signs of MCI. Those who exercised and used computer almost flipped the numbers exactly -- 36 per cent were cognitively normal, and 18.3 per cent showed signs of MCI.

"We found there was indeed a synergistic action between computer activities and physical exercise," says Dr. Geda, referring to the process wherein two elements create a result not possible with either on its own.

Moderate exercise has been linked to increased memory function in many studies, and Dr. Geda feels this indicates his results would translate to younger populations as well.

The best results were for those who exercised moderately five to six times a week, but even once a week was helpful, Dr. Geda emphasizes. "You should never underestimate any small amount of activity," he says.

He referred to Dr. James Levine's NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) research, which posits that all the small movements we make throughout the day can add up to the kind of activity we need for both physical and mental health.

SEE: Small changes you can make in your own life to increase physical activity:

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Hang Dry Your Clothes
The next time you're lucky enough to have a hot and sunny day, don't think of it as a opportunity to hide in your fortress of air conditioning, but rather as a chance to let your clothes hang to dry. By hanging your clothes to dry instead of using a machine dryer, you make more movements and save money on your electricity bill. It's a win-win manoeuvre.

Hand Wash And Dry Your Dishes
Ask yourself this: "do three plates really justify using a dishwasher?" Your probably already know the answer, so break out those rubber gloves and get washing. Just think of all the extra calories you're burning instead of being a slave to a water-guzzling machine.

Toss The Takeout Menu
Stop reaching for the phone and reach for a knife and cutting board instead. After all, what business does a person trying to be healthy have ordering food from a takeout joint?

Park As Far Away As Possible
If you're looking to squeeze in any extra exercise in your hectic schedule, try parking a little bit further from the entrance of your workplace. The extra distance will allow you to burn some calories -- or at the very least, prepare you for the eight-hour grind that's to come.

Opt For Stairs Whenever Possible
The hierarchy of transportation in buildings is as follows: stairs > escalators > elevators, both in terms of calories burned and in efficiency. Think about the last time you had to wait for an elevator: Couldn't have all that time you spent standing aimlessly been put to use by taking the stairs?

Ditch The Remote
In an age of PVR, Netflix and Apple TV, the remote is your best friend. But the next time an irritating commercial comes up or you're sick of that Seinfeld re-run, try getting up, walking to the TV and manually changing the channel. Now, repeat the exercise every time that happens and you've got yourself a recipe for a workout.

Cleaning Your Windows
Why hire a professional window cleaner when you can get a workout and save money in the process? Between the stretching, the repetitive motion of squeegeeing, and climbing up and down on a step ladder, window cleaning in an easy way to burn calories and save a few bucks too.

Pick Up A Push Mower
If you want a surefire way to burn calories this summer, give the poor kid down the street a break and mow your own lawn. And if you really want to push yourself, invest in a push mower. They're quiet, require next to no maintenance and you can keep all that extra gas that would have gone to a power mower where it belongs: in your car.

Pick Up A Rake
Picture this: a beautiful autumn day with hues of orange, red, and yellow juxtaposed across a clear blue sky... all ruined because the jerk next door decided to rev up the leaf blower. Don't be that jerk neighbour. Instead, opt to rake your leaves, as it's an easy opportunity to burn some calories during a season when most people are stuffing themselves with Thanksgiving dinner.

Hand Wash Your Car
It's tempting to take your car in for a touchless car wash but just think of all those potential movements you could be making going down the drain instead. Between the lifting of heavy buckets of soapy water and stretching out to make sure you don't miss a spot, hand washing a car provides plenty of exercise in an era of luxury and convenience.

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