Can Sweating to the Oldies Improve Brainpower?
Here’s yet another carrot to offer to your older-adult clients. According to a recent review of studies from the Netherlands, cardiovascular exercise may offer people over 55 a boost in brainpower.
Around age 50, even healthy older adults begin to experience mild declines in cognition, such as sporadic memory lapses and decreased ability to pay attention. Evidence shows that regular exercise contributes to healthy aging, but could the type of exercise a person performs influence cognitive fitness?
Researchers at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht evaluated 11 randomized, controlled trials featuring a total of 670 participants aged 55 and older. The trials examined the effects of cardiovascular exercise on cognitive processing speed, memory and attention. The review appeared in a recent issue of The Cochrane Library (2008; ).
In this particular review, participants exercised 2–7 days a week for a number of weeks—3 months on average—and underwent fitness and cognitive function tests. Eight of the studies found that cardiovascular exercise programs increased participants’ VO2max by 14%. Cardiorespiratory improvements coincided with improvements in cognitive function—especially motor function, cognitive speed and auditory and visual attention—when participants were compared with a group of nonexercising adults or adults in a yoga- or strength-based program.
“Aerobic physical exercises that improve cardiovascular fitness also help boost cognitive processing speed, motor function and visual and auditory attention in healthy older people,” said lead review author Maaike Angevaren, in a press release. “Improvements in cognition as a result of improvements in cardiovascular fitness are being explained by improvements in cerebral blood flow, leading to increased brain metabolism which, in turn, stimulates the production of neurotransmitters and formation of new synapses.”
Despite the association between mental health benefits and cardiovascular training, researchers stopped short of confirming that cardiovascular exercise in particular was necessary for cognitive improvement.
For the latest research, statistics, sample classes, and more, "Like" IDEA on Facebook here.
© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.
|Extreme Interval Training
In this course you'll learn goal-focused intervals and over 50 dynamic exercises and drills to create extensive and intensive training formats.
|Cut to the Core
This is a raw, unedited video filmed live at the 2009 IDEA World Fitness Convention™. Cut to the Core is packed full of core-focused exercises that aim to improve the way you look, feel and live.
|September 2011 IDEA Fitness Journal Quiz 4: Plyometric Training
This continuing education quiz is an in-depth look at plyometric training. Plyometric exercises—jumping, bounding, hopping, arm pushing, and catching and throwing weighted objects such as machine balls—are movements that involve rapid eccentric and concentric muscle actions.