Strong heart, slim waist, improved mood, increased muscle tone — there are many reasons for getting your daily dose of exercise. Sure, regular physical activity is great for keeping your body fit, but new research is showing that it can help keep your mind fit, too.
Received May 8; Accepted Jul This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Studies supporting the notion that physical activity and exercise can help alleviate the negative impact of age on the body and the mind abound. This literature review provides an overview of important findings in this fast growing research domain.
Results from cross-sectional, longitudinal, and intervention studies with healthy older adults, frail patients, and persons suffering from mild cognitive impairment and dementia are reviewed and discussed. Together these finding suggest that physical exercise is a promising nonpharmaceutical intervention to prevent age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
Introduction Chronological aging, or senescence, is associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions and diseases such as cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.
Due to prolonged life expectancy, age-related diseases have increased in alarming proportions in recent decades [ 1 ]. An increasing body of studies have suggested that lifestyle factors have a significant impact on how well people age. For example, Fratiglioni et al.
In this review and others [ 34 ], it is argued that out of these lifestyle factors, physical activity has the most support as protective against the deleterious effects of age on health and cognition.
Broadly defined, physical activity refers to activity that is part of one's daily life involving bodily movements and the use of skeletal muscles. Physical exercise is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, and purposive to improve specific physical skills or physical fitness.
Evidence suggests that physical activity and exercise can to some extent lower the risk of adverse outcomes associated with advancing age. Physical activity maintained throughout life is associated with lower incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases [ 56 ].
Recent studies suggest that physical exercise also protects against dementia [ 7 ]. Yet, despite this promise, the ways in which physical activity impacts the rate and prevalence of cognitive decline is still under investigation. Although recent advancements in neuroimaging techniques and genetics have opened new research avenues, more studies are required to provide definitive answers to these important questions.
This literature review aims to provide an overview of studies that have attempted to assess whether and how physical activity and exercise positively impact older adults at any age and with various physical and psychological conditions.
Aging and Neurocognitive Functions It is generally assumed that age brings with it declines in performance in a multitude of cognitive tasks that require a variety of perceptual and cognitive processes for extensive reviews of the literature see [ 389 ].
More specifically, processing speed declines early in the course of aging, which has recently been associated with loss of white matter integrity [ 10 ]. Working memory, or the ability to maintain and consciously manipulate information, is also highly age-sensitive. The age-related difference in working memory tends to be greater if executive control processes such as inhibition, updating, and manipulation are required, and even greater if the memory load i.
These deficits have sometimes been associated with reduced task-related activation in older compared to younger adults in frontal regions of the cerebral cortex. Other studies also reported higher task-related activation in older adults, a phenomenon possibly associated with compensation for age-related changes in brain structure and functions [ 9 ].
Older adults also tend to show reduced inhibition compared to younger adults. As a result, they are more distracted by irrelevant information and more affected by proactive interference i.
Furthermore, episodic memory declines in late adulthood, likely due to poor encoding strategies, less use of environmental support, and deficits in binding new information with existing knowledge during encoding.Cardiovascular fitness is thought to offset declines in cognitive performance, but little is known about the cortical mechanisms that underlie these changes in humans.
Research using animal models shows that aerobic training increases cortical capillary supplies, the number of synaptic connections, and the development of new neurons. Narrowed, blocked or leaky blood vessels can lead to strokes, which are the No.
2 cause of dementia (after Alzheimer's disease). Observational studies have turned up connections between cardiovascular conditions in midlife and cognitive conditions in .
Cognitive decline in dementia is not reduced by high-intensity exercise that the cardiovascular benefits may reduce the likelihood of developing dementia or slow the onset of more severe. Cardiovascular Fitness Hypothesis.
The cardiovascular fitness hypothesis proposes that cardiovascular (i.e., “aerobic”) fitness is the physiological mediator that explains the relationship between physical exercise and improved cognitive performance.
Age-related cognitive decline is exacerbated by CVD as well as cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., hypertension, diabe- tes, obesity, elevated total cholesterol).
Age-related cognitive decline is exacerbated by CVD as well as cardiovascular risk factors (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, obesity, elevated total cholesterol). Impairments in attention, executive function, and processing speed are common in CVD populations [ 16 – 21 ].