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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Study Spotlight: Study Reveals Connection Between Fitness Level, Brain Activity, and Executive Function


We have been told forever how important exercise is to your body and your health.  It helps us maintain our weight and decreases our risk of disease.  We may have also experienced the effect it can have on your mind.  The workout or runners "high" you feel or the moments of clarity after working out are fantastic but are they backed up by science?  This study takes a look at how much better your brain can work on exercise.


What They Did:
Researchers in this study looked at 128 patients ages of 59-80.  With the use of fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scans they looked at how certain parts of the brain responded when performing two simultaneous tasks compared to a single task.  What they were looking for is what type of response the brain elicited and its correlated with cardio respiratory fitness in that individual.

What They Found:
Researchers found that the higher someones cardio respiratory fitness was they more brain activity on the fMRI.  This also showed up in how well they performed the simultaneous tasks.

What It All Means:
This study spotlight comes at a very interesting time as I've been checking out the book "Spark" by John Ratey, MD.  He has dedicated an entire book to outlining the effects of exercise on how the body and the brain works.  The research is out there on how well cardiorespiratory can benefit your brain and help not only function better on a day to day basis but also help with certain conditions (i.e. ADHD) and also slowing down chronic disease.  Exercise is extremely powerful not only in the ability to keep your body functioning but also to help your brain in both function and optimization.  Make sure you're out and doing something.

Wong CN, Chaddock-Heyman L, Voss MW, Burzynska AZ, Basak C, Erickson KI, Prakash RS, Szabo-Reed AN, Phillips SM, Wojcicki T, Mailey EL, McAuley E and Kramer AF (2015) Brain activation during dual-task processing is associated with cardiorespiratory fitness and performance in older adults. Front. Aging Neurosci. 7:154
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