- Both memory exercises and yoga and meditation improved verbal memory
- But spiritual path improved visual-spatial memory to a greater degree
- Comes into play when recalling locations, navigating and reducing anxiety
- Regular practice could improve brain fitness and ward off Alzheimer’s
For years we’ve been told to keep our minds sharp by doing crosswords and playing sudoku.
But yoga and meditation are more effective than memory exercises for combating the mental decline that often precedes Alzheimer’s, research has shown.
People who practised yoga regularly were also less likely to be depressed and anxious, and were better able to cope with stress, the study found.
Regular practice could be a simple, safe and low-cost solution to improving brain fitness and ward off ageing, researchers said.
To come to their conclusions, scientists recruited 25 volunteers over the age of 55 who had reported memory issues such as forgetting names and faces, missing appointments or misplacing belongings.
They split them into two groups, with one carrying out memory exercises and the other yoga and meditation.
They found that after three months both were equally good at improving verbal memory skills, which help people remember names and word lists.
But the spiritual path provided added benefits in the form of enhanced visual-spatial memory.
This comes into play when recalling locations and navigating while walking or driving, and helps reduce anxiety.
Eleven participants received weekly hour-long memory training sessions and performed exercises ranging from crossword puzzles to computer-based tasks.
The other 14 were given an hour-long yoga session once a week and practised Kirtan Kriya meditation at home for 20 minutes every day.
Lead researcher Harris Eyre, from the University of Adelaide, said: ‘Historically and anecdotally, yoga has been thought to be beneficial in ageing well, but this is the scientific demonstration of that benefit.
‘We’re converting historical wisdom into the high level of evidence required for doctors to recommend therapy to their patients.’ Continue reading >>