Complete Wellbeing has always stressed that the physical, physiological, psychological aspects of human living are only different facets of the same whole. One more research has come to the fore that proves how intimately the psychological and physiological aspects of our living are entwined.
To state that exercise improves our physical fitness would be stating the obvious. But the new research has documented the benefits of exercise to cognitive skills [brain power] among elders.
A new review by Hayley Guiney and Liana Machado from the University of Otago, New Zealand emphasises on the importance of physical activity in keeping and potentially improving cognitive function throughout life. Their review is published online in the Springer publication Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
A certain degree of mental deterioration at the later stage age of one’s life would not be too surprising. However, it may not necessarily have to be the case as certain kinds of cognitive function such as task switching, selective attention and working memory among others, all seem to improve with aerobic exercise. Studies in older adults reviewed by the authors repeatedly showed that physically fitter elders scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers. In addition, intervention studies found that they scored better in mental tests when they were assigned to an aerobic exercise regimen compared to when they assigned to stretch and tone classes.
In older generations, the evidence for improvement in cognitive function is insurmountable. The types of tests of cognitive function reviewed here are important in showing that exercise may attenuate age-related decline for specific tasks. For example, it has been found to positively affect mental tasks relating to activities such as driving, an activity where age is often seen as a limiting factor.
The authors conclude that engagement in exercise can provide a simple means for people to optimise their cognitive function. They add that more research into the effects of exercise on young adults and children is required. However, they say that “the indications reported thus far – that regular exercise can benefit brains even when they are in their prime developmentally – warrant more rigorous investigation, particularly in the context of society becoming increasingly sedentary.”