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Aerobic Exercise Found To Enhance Brain Health, Memory In Older People

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Older people could improve their brain health, memory function and physical condition if they embark on an aerobic exercise programme, researchers at the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas have found.

It has already been established that as people get older their mental capacity and memory fitness weaken, and this is generally what most adults complain about, the research lead author, Sandra Bond Chapman, said. The findings from the study reveal the enormous potential of aerobics to enhance an individual´s memory and prove that exercise can slow down both the biological and cognitive effects of aging, added Chapman, who is founder and chief director of the Center for BrainHealth and Dee Wyly Distinguished University Chair.

The 12-week study, detailed in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, involved sedentary adults aged 57-75, who were divided into two groups – an exercise group and a group that didn´t engage in physical training. The exercise group undertook supervised aerobic exercise on a stationary bike and also worked out on a treadmill for an hour, three times a week. The researchers evaluated their thinking ability, brain blood flow and cardiovascular fitness before the start of the experiment, after six weeks and after the end of the study.

One of the key areas in which an increase in brain blood flow was registered was the anterior cingulate, which has been linked to strong mental ability in late life, showing higher neuronal activity and metabolic level, research collaborator Sina Aslan said.

The participants who showed improvement in their memory fitness were also found to have an increased brain blood flow to the hippocampus, one of the first regions of the brain to suffer damage in Alzheimer´s disease patients.