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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Alzheimer's, Memory, Cognitive Performance and Yoga

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Aug 6th 2013

Alzheimer's, Memory, Cognitive Performance and YogaRemember the old saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks?" When it comes to human beings learning helps improve memory and may even reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer's disease as we age.

Reading, writing and engaging in activities that stimulate the brain could help preserve memory as people age, according to a study published in the journal, Neurology. The study found that people who participated in activities that exercised their brain performed far better in tests that measured memory and thinking. This is referred to as Cognitive Performance. Cognitive performance refers to a person's mental processes, including memory, attention, producing and understanding language, learning, problem solving, reasoning, and decision making.

The author of the study was Robert S. Wilson, PhD, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He said that this could mean that exercising your brain throughout life is healthy for the brain. The study showed that mental decline was faster among people who were mentally active less frequently as compared to others.

Cognitively stimulating activities that seem to maintain brain health are reading, writing and playing stimulating games, including computer games, that challenge the mind. Post mortem studies of those who participated in some of this research showed that those who failed to engage in learning activities developed the types of plaque in the brain thought to cause Alzheimer's.

It's important to understand that cognitively stimulating activities can and should happen throughout one's lifetime. What is equally interesting is that people have significantly superior brain function after a bout of yoga exercise compared to aerobic exercise, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported in the Journal of Physical Activity & Health.

One researcher in the area of yoga and memory stated that "The breathing and meditative exercises aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture or breath. Maybe these processes translate beyond yoga practice when you try to perform mental tasks or day-to-day activities."

It's been found that yoga is linked to many health benefits such as:

1. Elevating mood and reducing anxiety and reducing depression.

2. Reducing stress.

3. Reduces back pain.

4. May help reduce the chances of developing heart disease and stroke.

Young or old, it's a good idea to start engaging in mentally stimulating activities and practicing Yoga for improving concentration, memory, good brain health and good physical health.

Your comments are welcome.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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