A new study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology revealed the impact of exercise on brain health in the older population. The research participants consisted of younger adults (aged 18-31) to older adults (age 55-82) and all research participants had images taken of their brain and their cardio-respiratory health was tested while exercising on a treadmill.
“We found that higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with enhanced brain structure in older adults,” explained corresponding author Scott Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and the associate director of the Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System. “We found that physical activities that enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, such as walking, are inexpensive, accessible and could potentially improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging independent function,” he added.
The researchers associated these results with a positive association between fitness and brain structure in older adults. The same results were not found in the younger population. “We hope this study provides additional motivation for older adults to increase their levels of physical activity, which positively impacts health, mood, cognition and the brain.”