Exercise Is Good For Your Brain
The study included 2,013 adults whose cardiorespiratory fitness was measured while they rode an exercise bike. Results suggested that the exercise may slow age-related changes in gray matter in parts of the brain involved with cognitive decline and aging. The participants’ MRI brain data also were analyzed. Mayo Clinic neurologist Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., said the study results provide “…indirect evidence that aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on cognitive function in addition to physical conditioning…(and) that these results may apply to older adults…There is good evidence for the value of exercise in midlife, but it is encouraging that there can be positive effects on the brain in later life as well.” Even so, long-term studies on the relationship between exercise and brain health are needed, said to be costly and logistically challenging to produce.
My take? A fair amount of clinical investigation has found that physical (as well as mental) exercise can benefit the brain as we age. Studies have shown that yoga, weight lifting and aerobic conditioning all can help, and research suggests that even if you’re over 50, a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training (resistance exercise) can have significant positive effects. One investigation, from Australia’s University of Canberra, identified improvements regardless of the state of an individual’s brain at the outset.
Katharina Wittfeld, PhD et al, “Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Gray Matter Volume in the Temporal, Frontal, and Cerebellar Regions in the General Population,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, January 2020, DOI: doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2019.05.030
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