You Are Never Too Old to Boost Brain Power with Exercise

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/21/2010 5:03 PM   :  54 comments   :  14,870 Views

See More: news, senior health,
Numerous studies have shown the intellectual benefits of exercise for children. Physical activity has been shown to increase test scores, improve concentration and improve overall academic achievement. As P.E. classes and recess time are being cut, parents have a greater responsibility to incorporate exercise into after-school activities. But kids arenít the only ones whose brain power gets a boost from exercise. New research shows that adults can benefit as well.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, followed sedentary adults (who did fewer than two 30-minute weekly workouts in the previous six months) as they began a regular exercise program that continued for a year. Their program consisted of moderate walking and stretching for 40 minutes, 3 times a week. According to the report, "after just one year of activity, the subjects ó who ranged in age from 59 to 80 ó had improved connectivity of important circuits in their brain and had mitigated declines in their brain function that are typically associated with aging. Furthermore, they showed improved performance on cognitive tasks."

Researchers said that these results werenít surprising, because a large part of the brain is used for coordinating the actions of the muscles. The more active you are, the more practice your brain gets in processing information- and therefore, your cognitive abilities can improve.

It was interesting to hear that a moderate-intensity exercise program only 3 times a week was enough to see positive results. That means you donít have to spend hours at the gym to get the brain boost that small amounts of activity can provide.

What do you think?


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Comments

  • 54
    That's very good news! Another good reason to be physically active. - 12/4/2010   5:49:18 AM
  • 53
    Good Blog - 9/25/2010   3:15:11 PM
  • 52
    Great article! - 9/24/2010   4:44:58 PM
  • ETHELMERZ
    51
    I use the exercise bike in our living room at least 3 hrs. per day, not all at once, and it's been a life saver for my dh and I. Been doing it for 6 1/2 years, along with free weights. Feel like an old "lump" if we have to go somewhere for an appt., and can't be on the bike first thing in the AM. Helps with maintaining the weight loss. Dancing to good old music also is great, and boosts your mood and even your "romance", depending who is there, lol. - 9/23/2010   9:15:04 PM
  • 50
    It's a shame that recess and gym class is being eliminated from school or reduced significantly. This shows that it helps everyone. - 9/23/2010   7:40:46 PM
  • 49
    I don't see how some school districts are actually CUTTING physical education and recess...IN MY OPINION, physical fitness and social interaction are the two most important skills that kids can get from school!

    i'm 23, but i don't even remember what i learned in 3rd grade science class, but i will ALWAYS use the skills that i gained in recess to deal with people. i still have strong memories about how FUN it was to play in-line soccer at gym class... - 9/23/2010   3:58:09 PM
  • 48
    Many of the ladies in my Pilates class are in their 70s and 80s and are young in mind and body. - 9/23/2010   2:36:35 PM
  • 47
    It's nice to know that we can exercise our mind and body at the same time! - 9/23/2010   10:10:38 AM
  • 46
    I certainly liked hearing that! Hope it is true. - 9/23/2010   9:38:58 AM
  • GARNETTS
    45
    Having gone from bookkeeper to beautician at age 55, I'm very glad to hear this, not really too surprised, though. - 9/23/2010   9:19:56 AM
  • 7WORSHIPS
    44
    Wow - back to exercise class for me - no wonder I have not been thinking too clearly lately. - 9/23/2010   5:31:51 AM
  • 43
    I know my daughter cycled into college when she was taking her exams as she'd heard exercise before an exam helped. I walk the dog for an hour most days, but not sure how much good it's doing me!! - 9/23/2010   4:38:32 AM
  • 42
    A very good article. - 9/22/2010   10:42:54 PM
  • 41
    Great article !! - 9/22/2010   10:09:48 PM
  • 40
    Super article, and I totally believe it! - 9/22/2010   8:13:59 PM
  • 39
    This is good to know. I have started to exercise recently and am glad to know it not only helps me physically but helps by brain. - 9/22/2010   4:50:28 PM
  • 38
    Very good info to know. I know exercise has also helped with my moods,and having clearer and more imaginative thinking. - 9/22/2010   3:56:00 PM
  • 37
    I sure hope that is the case. I exercise everyday, as well as play lots of different Trivia games, every Sunday. I hope it does keep my memory functioning well.
    Thanks for the article. - 9/22/2010   3:33:14 PM
  • 36
    There are several ladies aged 75 in my yoga class and they are inspirational. Great article! - 9/22/2010   3:07:27 PM
  • 35
    Its a great reminder that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Maybe it is never too late to start something? Thanks for the blog. - 9/22/2010   2:28:43 PM
  • 34
    Exercise does the whole body good. I feel so much better when I exercise. - 9/22/2010   2:25:40 PM
  • 33
    I am sixty three and I still love to dance, the faster the better! Shake that thing makes me feel good! - 9/22/2010   2:13:43 PM
  • 32
    Isn't it amazing what exercise does for your body overall? Now let me shut down the computer and get to exercising! - 9/22/2010   1:37:17 PM
  • 31
    Thanks for posting this - it's a great reminder for myself that there are many, many benefits from exercising besides 'just' losing weight! - 9/22/2010   1:30:10 PM
  • 30
    Just one more reason to stay active! At 26, I'm trying to make exercise a habit, so that when I'm older, exercise just comes naturally. I watched my grandma's health deteriorate rapidly due to Alziemer's, and it was very sad. I want to do everything I can to stay physically and mentally fit as I age. - 9/22/2010   10:55:15 AM
  • 29
    Great article..... another incentive to "Keep Going" - 9/22/2010   10:50:50 AM
  • 28
    Great article and oh so true. Exercise is good for the body, mind and soul. - 9/22/2010   10:44:53 AM
  • METAMOM2
    27
    Since recovering from a fall over four months ago, my body and brain have deteriorated from lack of exercise! Thanks for this motivator to get moving again! - 9/22/2010   10:01:56 AM
  • 26
    Good article (had to chuckle at the posters who said exercise hadn't helped their brain activity--they can't say their brains aren't better than if they hadn't exercised, can they? lol) - 9/22/2010   10:01:29 AM
  • 25
    I work with seniors and my role model is a 94 year old woman who bowls every week, goes dancing (ballroom) each week, & walks a mile or more every day that it's not raining! She's sharp as a tack. In contrast to many others who sit in front of the TV all day. Gotta keep moving! - 9/22/2010   9:28:01 AM
  • 24
    Sounds good to me! - 9/22/2010   9:25:49 AM
  • 23
    This is not a surprize at all. previous studies have shown that regular exercise can help improve a person's brain functions. It's not just the increased blood flow to the brain, it's also the improvement in connections between neurons. The more neural connections are brain makes, the better.

    I do believe that regular exercise can and does help improve brain function. - 9/22/2010   9:25:15 AM
  • 22
    I am nearly 62 years old. I exercise every day [fibromyalgia rehab] and try to do a LOT of 'new things' regularly. Even something like making a different kind of muffin [thank you Spark Recipes!] is helpful! Thanks for sharing this GREAT article! - 9/22/2010   9:23:36 AM
  • 21
    I can so agree! I know that excercising has helped me tremendously! I think I have a renewed mind! - 9/22/2010   9:11:42 AM
  • 20
    As the Monkeys used to sing, "I'm a believer!" - 9/22/2010   8:51:11 AM
  • DIANE2110
    19
    I just love brain teasers! - 9/22/2010   8:49:49 AM
  • SILVERHAWK
    18
    Mostly this is in the same vein as TeddyTeddy's comment below: exercise works as an antidepressant, too. I've been medicated for my depression for over a decade now, and the only time that I seriously considered lowering my dose was when I was getting consistent exercise. Thanks for the reminder for all the reasons I want to get this body in shape. - 9/22/2010   8:32:43 AM
  • 17
    I agree with Hippie44! Exercise hasn't helped my brain functioning!!! - 9/22/2010   8:23:24 AM
  • 16
    I've been consistant with a min of 5 days of exercise for 1-1.5 hrs daily, and my brain is still mush :) - 9/22/2010   8:12:54 AM
  • DENI_ZEN
    15
    Regular exercise definitely enhances one's overall alertness, and that cannot but help overall cognition. - 9/22/2010   7:56:16 AM
  • 14
    We all need exercise for brain strength! I know when my brain is on overload, a quick walk helps keep it clear and sharp:) - 9/22/2010   6:42:11 AM
  • LEFTYONE
    13
    I like the fact that it offers a reasonable approach. I don't have to try to be a marathoner! Woo Hoo! - 9/22/2010   6:20:17 AM
  • KAKIPOPUP
    12
    The new brain research is SO exciting - our brains continue to grow and develop throughout the lifespan...it IS possible to teach old dogs new tricks, so to speak! It is such a pleasant change to anticipate aging as a period of continued growth and development rather than just ticking down to the end. - 9/22/2010   3:14:28 AM
  • 11
    Jack LaLanne is 95 and the "GodFather of Fitness" is in wonderful health and mentally sharp. He exercises 2 hours every single day of his life. So, he certainly is proof that exercise & diet keep the mind sharp. His wife is 85 and in wonderful health as well. - 9/22/2010   1:12:25 AM
  • 10
    I new there was a reason that I exercise besides the energy it gives me and the good mood I get from all those endorphins. - 9/22/2010   12:23:07 AM
  • 9
    I've been preaching this too! I hope to be as sharp mentally as Jack La Lane if I make it to his age. (95) - 9/22/2010   12:06:43 AM
  • NGAIBRUCE
    8
    I believe it is true although I'm not sure how I'd prove this. I just seems I'm able to reason more clearly, have better recall and cognitive skills possibly the result of exercise rather than something else. I do relate my better sense of balance and greater freedom of movement directly to my exercise regimen. Needless to say, I need little encouragement to continue with my physical activities. In fact, however, this is a very complex subject with many intriguing aspects. There's probably a lot of truth to the adage: "if you don't use it, you will lose it" which assumes that you've actually found "it" in the first place. - 9/21/2010   11:20:22 PM
  • 7
    Simply reinforces the idea that the best things for our bodies (and brains) are free and uncomplicated. Thanks for the reminder. - 9/21/2010   10:12:44 PM
  • 6
    I know that the more I move and do exercise the better I feel and the more I can think clearer. - 9/21/2010   10:04:07 PM
  • 5
    The article didn't mention how exercise helps stave off depression. I was doing regular exercise a coiuple of years ago and I suddenly stopped and within 2 weeks my mood became just abysmal. All I had to do was start up again and I felt better almost right away!!! - 9/21/2010   8:35:04 PM

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