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.
(c) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.