Regular Exercise For Three Months Enhances Cognitive Function In Elderly, Study Shows

In Education

Physical activity has a well-established link to enhanced cognitive function, particularly in the elderly population. Nonetheless, recent findings from Japan underscore the accessibility of cognitive benefits for older adults through regular exercise. Scholars at the University of Tsukuba have revealed that individuals’ cognitive capacities and neural efficiency exhibited enhancements following a mere three-month engagement in moderate exercise routines, conducted thrice per week.

Low –to-moderate exercise enhances executive function

Past research endeavors have concentrated on extended durations (6 to 12 months) of moderate-to-high-intensity aerobic exercise regimens and their influence on executive function, which the prefrontal cortex controls. Naturally, the challenges of adhering to such lengthy exercise routines are widely acknowledged.

In the latest study, researchers expanded on previous studies from the University of California-Irvine and the University of Tsukuba, which demonstrated that short sessions of mild exercise like walking and yoga could enhance cognitive performance. However, until now, the lasting impact and mechanisms of prolonged mild aerobic exercise on human brain function remained un researched.

The study analyzed a group of middle-aged and older adults between 55 and 78 divided into exercise and control groups. The exercise group engaged in low-intensity bicycle exercise thrice a week for three months, while the control group continued their normal routine. The researchers measured executive function using a Stroop test and prefrontal cortex activity using functional near-infrared spectroscopy prior to and after the intervention.

Exercise improves executive function in older adults

Findings indicate that the exercise group, particularly older adults aged 68-78, showed significant improvement in executive function compared to the control group. The improvement was linked to increased activation efficiency of the prefrontal cortex, indicating that three months of mild exercise enhanced the brain’s functional networks and made the prefrontal cortex work more efficiently during the Stroop test.

Study authors conclude that a few months of exercise can significantly benefit older adults’ brains by strengthening the prefrontal cortex and improving cognitive function. This finding could lead to the creation of tailored exercise programs for older individuals with low fitness levels and limited motivation to exercise.

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