Physical fitness keeps the brain young

Researchers have discovered that the aging brain benefits from physical fitness. According to a new study, the fitter older people are the better their mental abilities are (aerobic fitness).

Dr. Arthur Kramer (Beckman Institute, University of Illinois, USA) said that fitness can enhance brain and mental function. You do not need to run marathons or do giant workouts. Even moderate physical activity keeps the brain young.

Walking two or three miles a week would be enough to keep your brain in tip-top condition. If you do this your cognitive function will be enhanced.

Scientists have known for a while that aerobic training has a positive effect on the brains of older animals. Apart from improving blood flow to the brain, it also helps the formation of new neurons (it also increases number of connection – synapses – between neurons).

What scientists did not know until now was whether this applied to humans as well, informs &to=' target=_blank>MedicalNewsToday

Getting up from your desk and going for a brisk walk may keep your mind agile later in life, say US researchers. They have found clear evidence that an aerobic exericise programme - even a fairly gentle one - may boost performance in key areas of the brain. Professor Kramer said: "The brain circuits that underlie our ability to think - in this case to attend selectively to information in the environment - can change in a way that is conducive to better performance on tasks as a result of fitness.

"The kinds of tasks that we explored are similar to those encountered in real world situations such as driving a vehicle or any endeavour that requires a person to pay attention despite distractions." In mice, research has suggested that exercise produces increased levels of a molecule called brain-derived neurotrophin factor - which not only protects the brain, but can increase "connections" between brain cells.

An Age Concern spokeswoman said there were clear benefits for older people from exercise. "The important thing is to start from where you are and build your way up gradually. "If you're enjoying good health and don't suffer from heart problems, pains in the chest or joint and bone problems, you can build more activity into your life without consulting your GP.

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