Moderate physical exercise combined with computer use late in life is associated with a lower risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The research indicated that while both elements related to lowered risk of MCI, there was an additive interaction that created enhanced value according to Yonas Geda, M.D. who presented the research at the annual meeting of the Academy of Neurology.
A random sample of 926 elderly, ages 70 through 90, completed questionnaires on physical exercise, cognitive activities, and caloric intake during the previous year. All were considered non-demented and the diagnosis of MCI, if appropriate, came later. 817 of the original sample were considered normal cognitively and 109 were diagnosed with MCI.
Significant differences were found between the two groups as the normal subjects were younger, better educated, less likely to suffer depression, and had fewer medical problems. When these factors were controlled, the following was found:
- Any frequency of moderate exercise was cognitively protective.
- Any frequency of computer use was cognitively protective.
- Caloric intake was deleterious.
When caloric intake was controlled, physical exercise and computer use had an additive interaction that was significant. For purposes of this study, computer use seemed to have more value than other cognitive enhancing activities such as reading
This study adds to other research that demonstrates brain health promoting effects of computer use with physical exercise.