Physical activity linked to better brain health & cognition in older adults

  • A study found that older adults remembered names better after moderately intense exercise.
  • A large, long-running study found that each hour of light physical activity per week was linked to less brain atrophy.
  • Similarly, another long-running study reported that higher levels of lifestyle physical activity were associated with less brain atrophy.

Exercise activates brain networks in older adults

A study involving healthy older adults (55-85) found that recall was better after a session of moderately intense exercise, and several crucial brain regions showed greater activation.

The recall task involved identifying famous names and non famous ones. The test occurred 30 minutes after the exercise session (using an exercise bike) and on a separate day after a period of rest.

Brain activation while correctly remembering names was significantly greater in the hippocampus, middle frontal gyrus, inferior temporal gryus, middle temporal gyrus, and fusiform gyrus.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/uom-eam042419.php

Light, physical activity reduces brain aging

Data from the Framingham Heart Study has found that each additional hour spent in light-intensity physical activity was associated with higher brain volumes, equivalent to approximately 1.1 years less brain aging.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/buso-lpa041719.php

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/19/household-chores-keep-brain-young-research-suggests

Everyday physical activities linked to more gray matter in brains of older adults

Data from 262 older adults (mean age 81) in the long-running Rush's Memory and Aging Project, found that higher levels of lifestyle physical activity (e.g., house cleaning, dog-walking, gardening, as well as exercise) are associated with more gray matter.

Participants wore an accelerometer continuously for seven to ten days, in order to accurately measure the frequency, duration and intensity of a participant's activities.

The association between physical activity and gray matter volumes remained after further controlling for age, gender, education levels, body mass index and symptoms of depression.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-02/rumc-eaa021318.php

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