Fit body, fit brain
July 28th 2008, 15:48I'm not a big fan of Sudoku. So I was thrilled to learn recently that another good way to keep your brain in shape is through exercise.
Researchers from the Netherlands studied data from nearly 700 adults aged 55 and older and found that those who improved their cardiorespiratory fitness through aerobic exercise also boosted their brain power (Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2008; 2: CD005381).
Aerobic exercise involves continuous, rhythmic activity that strengthens the heart and lungs and improves oxygen consumption by the body. The participants in this study exercised aerobically between two and seven days a week for several weeks, and underwent fitness and cognitive function tests.
Compared to non-exercisers and those following a yoga- or strength-based programme, or any other intervention, the aerobic exercisers saw significant improvements in motor function, cognitive processing speed, memory, and auditory and visual attention.
The findings are good news for older adults, suggesting that aerobic exercise might be an important way to protect against dementia and other forms of cognitive decline. But it turns out that other age groups can benefit, too - particularly school-age children.
In fact, studies show that children might derive benefits in school performance from increased participation in aerobic activity.
So if, like me, number puzzles aren't your thing, get up and get moving to give your brain the workout it needs.
More research on the effects of exercise on the brain can be found in the August issue of 'What Doctors Don't Tell You'. It will be with subscribers on Saturday, July 26. If you would like to subscribe, please click here.