The physical benefits of regular exercise and remaining physically active, especially as we age, are well documented. However, it appears that it is not only the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too.
The evidence for this is published in a new review by Hayley Guiney and Liana Machado from the University of Otago, New Zealand, which focuses 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 amount of mental deterioration is expected with advancing age. However, this may not necessarily have to be the case as particular aspects of cognitive function such as task switching, selective attention and working memory among others, all appear to benefit from aerobic exercise. Studies in older adults reviewed by the authors consistently found that fitter individuals scored better in mental tests than their unfit peers.
In addition, intervention studies found scores in mental tests improved in participants who were assigned to an aerobic exercise regimen compared to those assigned to stretch and tone classes. Interestingly, these results were not replicated in children or young adults. The one area where physical fitness or regular exercise was found to have an effect on cognitive function in these age groups was for memory tasks.
Read more: PsyPost