Exercises are essential to keep you fit – physically and mentally. According to the most recent study conducted on exercising, keeping yourself physically fit is essential for older people to keep their brain active. This results of this study appeared for the first time in the New York Times.
Once people start the age of 40, your body starts losing its flexibility, slowing down your movements. And, this slowly prevents you from exercising due to the awkwardness that arise from your non-synchronous movements. During the same phases, your memory and cognitive potential also starts witnessing a decline. Multitasking that once used to be your niche would now become a tedious process and learning something new should sometime become tough.
This study was conducted on Japanese men between the 64 and 75 years by Dr. Hideaki Soya, a professor of exercise and neuro endocrinology at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. There were about 60 people in this group and all of them were tested negative for cognitive decline conditions. These people were tested for their aerobic fitness levels under lab conditions also.
A set of tiny probes were attached to the scalps and foreheads of these volunteers on an individual basis to record the oxygen intake and blood flow to various parts of their brain. The volunteers were then asked to complete certain complicated computerized tests. The screens showed certain colors but with a different name. The participants were asked to type the spelling of the word shown on the screen and not the hue of the color.
According to the researchers, this task requires incredible levels of focus and decision-making, which triggers the functioning of the left hemisphere of the prefrontal cortex. The study revealed something very interesting. The scientists noted that the right hemispheres of the brains in many of the volunteers also became active in the process, which indicated that extra brain power was required to finish the task. This, according to the study, is a clear display of the Harold activity pattern.
What was more interesting was that men who were aerobically fit required only left hemisphere, akin to the youngsters, to complete the task. Their quick decision making potential and power of attention was similar to those in the younger people. These people also demonstrated quicker keystrokes and responded more effectively than the non-aerobically fit people of the group.
In short, according to Dr. Soya, “higher aerobic fitness is associated with improved cognitive function.”
But, the study is just an observation and has no sufficient evidences that support the reasoning that fitness was the sole factor that determined the functioning of the brain. It could even be due to the differential thinking pattern in the fitter men. Plus, the study also focused only on aerobic exercises while in reality, older people prefer walking, jogging, swimming, or such moderately intense exercise patterns.
Yet another drawback of this study was that the group consisted of people who had no cognitive impairment.
However, this study, does provide some ray of hope for the older people. According to Dr. Soy, even small doses of mild exercises like walking and jogging daily could positive impact the functioning of the brain, thereby enabling the brains of older people to work with the same potential when they were young.
And, the study also highlights that exercises performed in the morning offer better benefits to the brain as they are more effective. Working out in the morning improves circulation. It keeps away stress and helps you sleep better. All of these work hand in hand, leading to younger brain.