February 17, 2022
A multi-institution team that studied the effect of exercise on older adults. The researchers found that aerobic exercise positively influences memory, with larger effects observed among various sample and intervention characteristics. These results highlight aerobic exercise as an accessible, non-pharmaceutical intervention to improve episodic memory in late adulthood.
Main takeaways from this research are:
- Exercise is an accessible way older adults can stave off memory declines, benefiting themselves, their caretakers, and the health care system.
- The greatest effects of exercise were found in participants who exercised consistently several times a week.
One of the earliest memory systems to decline with increasing age is episodic memory. Episodic memory is the remembrance of past personal events and experiences. Given a lack of pharmaceutical treatments to prevent or reverse this deterioration, it is important to investigate non-pharmaceutical methods for promoting the integrity of episodic memory. It remains unclear whether aerobic exercise induces changes in episodic memory. Scott Fraundorf, Associate Professor, Psychology, and LRDC Research Scientist, formed part of a multi-institution team that examined the effects of aerobic exercise randomized controlled trials on episodic memory in older adults without dementia and assessed whether the effects depend on the characteristics of the sample and intervention.
The researchers found that aerobic exercise positively influences episodic memory, with larger effects observed among various sample and intervention characteristics. These results highlight aerobic exercise as an accessible, non-pharmaceutical intervention to improve episodic memory in late adulthood.
Read more about the research in "Exercise can help older adults retain memories, a Pitt study shows," a February 17, 2022, Pittwire feature article written by Patrick Monahan.
Aghjayan, S. L., Bournias, T., Kang, C., Zhou, X., Stillman, C. M., Donofry, S. D., Kamarck, T. W., Marsland, A. L., Voss, M. W., Fraundorf, S. H., & Erickson, K. I. (2022). Aerobic exercise improves episodic memory in late adulthood: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Communications Medicine, 2(1), 1-11