Lifestyle and memory in the elderly

Neuroepidemiology. 2008;31(1):39-47. doi: 10.1159/000137378. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Background: Healthy lifestyle has been associated with a decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, but its relationship with memory functions is still inconclusive. This study aims to analyze the association between a composite lifestyle index and memory performance.

Methods: In this cross-sectional survey, 198 healthy individuals (aged 65-84 years) underwent tests of verbal episodic memory. A composite lifestyle index was calculated that included the following lifestyle dimensions: physical exercise, dietary habits, BMI, smoking and alcohol consumption. The healthiest behavior was defined as: a BMI <22; a diet high in fruits, vegetables, wholemeal/low-fat foods and unsaturated fatty acids; energy expenditure through physical activity >13,000 kcal/week; a history of never smoking; an alcohol consumption of 4-10 drinks per week.

Results: Linear regression analysis revealed that a high lifestyle index score was associated with a better memory score (after adjusting for age, sex, education and blood pressure). The composite index had a stronger relationship with memory scores than single factors.

Conclusions: This cross-sectional study revealed that a healthy lifestyle, assessed by a simple composite index, is related to better memory performance in healthy elderly individuals. Our findings point to the importance of a comprehensive modulation of lifestyle factors when finding ways to preserve memory functions in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Memory* / physiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology