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Staying active and exercising is always important, but as we age it can make even more of a tangible impact on our day-to-day lives.

While there's currently no "cure" for dementia, new research published this week in an online issue of the journal Neurology shows that daily exercise or even lighter physical activity like housework may keep your memory sharper, even for elderly individuals who have brain lesions or biomarkers linked to dementia.

For the study, researchers looked at 454 brain autopsies from deceased older adults, of which 191 had dementia and 263 did not. While alive, all 454 study participants were given yearly physical exams and thinking and memory tests for 20 straight years.

"Our research team measured levels of physical activity in study participants an average of two years prior to death, and then examined their brain tissue after death, and found that moving more may have a protective effect on the brain," said study author Aron S. Buchman, MD, of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, in a press release. "People who moved more had better thinking and memory skills compared to those who didn't move much at all. We found movement may essentially provide a reserve to help maintain thinking and memory skills when there are signs of dementia present in the brain."

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Of course, this study does not prove a direct cause-and-effect link between exercise and memory (i.e., other variables like diet and genes could be involved), but the correlation between enhanced memory function as your physical activity output increases seems promising.

On that note, we're throwing on our gym clothes. We'll have to cap off our next neighborhood power walk or stationary bike session with one of these foods that nutritionists say make you live longer.