Posted on Dec 02, 2013, 6 a.m.
People who engage in an aerobic exercise program enjoy improved memory and increased blood flow to the brain.
Previous studies have suggested that aging decreases mental efficiency as well as promotes memory decline. Sandra Bond Chapman, from The University of Texas (Texas, USA), and colleagues studied a group of sedentary men and women, ages 57 to 75 years, who were randomized into either a physical training or a wait-list control group. The physical training group participated in supervised aerobic exercise on a stationary bike or treadmill for one hour, three times a week for 12 weeks. Participants' cognition, resting cerebral blood flow, and cardiovascular fitness were assessed at three time points: before beginning the physical exercise regimen, mid-way through at 6 weeks, and post-training at 12 weeks. Among the exercisers, the team detected an increase in brain blood flow to the anterior cingulated region of the brain – linked to superior cognition in late life. Exercisers who improved their memory performance also showed greater increase in brain blood flow to the hippocampus, the key brain region affected by Alzheimer's disease. The study authors report that: "These data suggest that even shorter term aerobic exercise can facilitate neuroplasticity to reduce both the biological and cognitive consequences of aging to benefit brain health in sedentary adults.”
Sandra B Chapman, Sina Aslan, Jeffrey S Spence, Laura F DeFina, Molly W Keebler, Nyaz Didehbani, Hanzhang Lu. “Shorter term aerobic exercise improves brain, cognition, and cardiovascular fitness in aging.” Front. Aging Neurosci., 12 November 2013.