#CardiovascularExercise enhances brain functioning in aging adults, #EnhancedBrainFunction, #AgingAdults
By: Lisa Lukianoff, Psy.D.
Have you ever noticed how mentally alert you feel after exercising? Or experienced a lessening degree of mental fatigue afterwards? Scientific research findings suggest an increase in executive functioning as a result of exercise. Which turns out to be especially significant for older adults.
As a person ages, so dose their brain. Aging adult brains have typically shown some reduced cognitive functioning and changes in various regions. However, with an increase in healthy-aging adults, whose life vitality and longevity have increased substantially, researchers are focusing on what contributes to this new paradigm in aging. "Both cognitive and physical exercise have been discussed as promising interventions for healthy cognitive aging", ((Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013, p. 1).
Researchers identified strategies and characteristics for enhanced brain functioning throughout the lifespan. Resent neuroscience findings have showed that enhanced brain functioning, neuroplasticity and neurogenesis are attainable throughout life stages for aging individuals. Integral to achieving healthy aging are behaviors and activities that reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease; a Mediterranean diet plan and regular physical exercise.
Rhey studied the neurological changes and effects of cycling (cardiovascular exercise) on aging adults. These findings were significant in that they confirmed a “healthy” lifestyle can modulate cognitive brain functioning as one age and it improves frontal lobe and memory functioning. “On the neuronal level, the spatial training group, as compared to the perceptual training group, showed significant activation changes from pre- to posttest in the superior and middle temporal gyri and the medial temporal lobe of the right hemisphere”, (Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013, p. 9).
Overall these research findings show a positive correlation between physical (cardiovascular) exercise with improved executive (brain) functioning. “These improvements were accompanied by functional changes in associated frontal brain regions, most likely indicating more efficient neuronal processing”, (Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013, p. 2).
Additionally these researchers discovered that a healthy lifestyle of regular cardiovascular exercise overall reduces the decline of grey and white matter in brain and improves memory. “Hötting et al. found a positive correlation between the increase in cardiovascular fitness and verbal memory after a six-month exercise training, suggesting a direct relation between physical exercising success and cognitive gains”, (Holzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K., 2013).
Another research cited in this study "proposed the idea that a combination of physical activity and cognitive challenge might be most effective in inducing beneficial and permanent effects on the brain’s structure and function".
lzschneider K, Wolbers T, Röder B, & Hötting K. (2013). Cardiovascular fitness modulates brain activation associated with spatial learning. BMC Neuroscience. Volume 14(73). Doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-73.
This blog is intended to explore ideas, educate, entertain and expand our thinking. Some posts speak to current trends in the brain sciences, neural benefits of exercise & sports, emotional intelligence and personal growth.