Exercise for seniors can change their brains: report

Cardiorespiratory fitness can change the white matter in the brains of seniors, new research reveals.

Boston University researchers said the news could mean exercise for seniors can lessen age-related decline. Cardiorespiratory fitness was "linked to the structural integrity of white matter fiber bundles in the brain in the older adults," with no similar association for younger adults, they said.

"We found that physical activities that enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, such as walking, are inexpensive, accessible and could potentially improve quality of life by delaying cognitive decline and prolonging independent function," said corresponding author Scott Hayes, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and the associate director of the Neuroimaging Research for Veterans Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

The researchers said that while more study is needed, the results should motivate older adults to increase their levels of physical activity.

Findings appeared in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.