Study: Aerobic exercise improves older adults' brain function

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Aerobic exercise not only provides heart healthy benefits, it may improve older adults' memory, attention or other mental abilities, according to a new Netherlands study.

Researchers at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht reviewed 11 clinical trials conducted in the U.S., France and Sweden that involved a total of 670 adults older than 55. In eight of these studies, participants who engaged in aerobic exercise showed an average improvement in their fitness levels. The participants at the same time experienced mental acuity gains.

It's not known whether other kinds of exercise would have the same effect on brain health, but there are specific reasons why aerobic exercise is effective. It increases cerebral blood flow, which ultimately help to stimulate the production of neurotransmitters and formation of new synapses, according to researcher Dr. Maaike Angevaren. The findings appear in the Cochrane Library.

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