Lifelong exercise holds key to cognitive well-being
A study by researchers at King's College London highlights a link between lifelong exercise and improved brain function in later life.
The study found that regular intensive lifelong exercise as a child and adult improved cognitive functioning at the age of 50 and that even exercise of a lower frequency could offer benefits for cognitive well-being.
Dr Alex Dregan, Lecturer in Translational Epidemiology and Public Health at King's College London, believes the findings support the need for a lifelong approach when seeking to improve cognitive well-being and thinks the results are especially pertinent given recent concerns over the growth of an ageing population in the UK. He said: 'As exercise represents a key component of lifestyle interventions to prevent cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, public health interventions to promote lifelong exercise have the potential to reduce the personal and social burden associated with these conditions in late adult years.'
Published today in the journal Psychological Medicine, the study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London, and is one of the first longitudinal investigations to measure the effects of lifelong exercise on the brain.
Using information from the UK National Child Development Study, researchers examined levels of exercise between the ages of 11 and 50 in more than 9,000 individuals. The data was collected through face-to-face interviews at the ages of 11, 16, 33, 42, 46 and 50, reducing the possibility of inaccurate retrospective accounts of exercise as a child. Participants undertook two measures of cognitive performance, including memory and executive functioning, which were then combined into a third, overall 'cognitive index' score. The memory task involved learning ten unrelated words before immediate and delayed recall was tested. Executive functioning was assessed by asking participants to name as many animals as possible in one minute, which examined verbal fluency, and to cross-through specified letters in a series (letter cancellation), which measured attention, mental speed and visual scanning.
The study found that participants who exercised weekly as a child and as an adult performed better on tests of memory, learning, attention and reasoning at the age of 50 than those who exercised two to three times per month or less.
The preservation of cognitive functioning into later adult years represents a major public health concern, and as such, the government recommends that adults aged 19-64 should exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. Previous research has focused on the achievement of recommended levels and has scarcely explored the benefits of lower levels of exercise. The study carried out by King's indicates that even exercise of a frequency lower than recommended levels may also contribute to better cognitive functioning.
Dr Dregan said: 'It's widely acknowledged that a healthy body equals a healthy mind. However, not everyone is willing or able to take part in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For these people any level of physical activity may benefit their cognitive well-being in the long-term and this is something that needs to be explored further.
'Setting lower exercise targets at the beginning and gradually increasing their frequency and intensity could be a more effective method for improving levels of exercise within the wider population.'
Researchers found that the greatest benefit emerged from participating in lifelong intensive exercise, even after accounting for exercise frequency. Dr Dregan said: 'It appears that intensive exercise may offer benefits for brain functioning in later life over and above those resulting from regular yet less intense exercise.'
He added: 'Clinical trials are required to further explore the benefits of exercise for cognitive well-being among older adults, whilst examining the effects of exercise with varying levels of frequency and intensity.'
Journal reference: Psychological Medicine
Provided by King's College London
- Researchers find smoking and high blood pressure may be linked to ageing of the brain Nov 26, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Aerobic exercise boosts brain power Dec 13, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Brief exercise immediately enhances memory, researchers find Nov 27, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Study shows that high-intensity training boosts cognitive function Oct 29, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Aerobic exercise may reduce the risk of dementia Sep 07, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Calorie information in fast food restaurants used by 40 percent of 9-18 year olds when making food choices
A new study published online today (Thursday) in the Journal of Public Health has found that of young people who visited fast food or chain restaurants in the U.S. in 2010, girls and youth who were obese were more likely ...
Health 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(HealthDay)—Implementation of systematic monitoring for medication adherence will allow for identification of barriers to adherence and tailoring of interventions, according to a viewpoint piece published ...
Health 5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—The Obama administration says more doctors and hospitals are embracing technology as adoption of computerized medical records reaches a "tipping point" in America.
Health 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers report that hospitals may be reaping enormous income for patients whose hospital stays are complicated by preventable bloodstream infections contracted in their intensive care units.
Health 6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A University of Illinois researcher says that the cornerstone of our efforts to alleviate food insecurity should be to encourage more people to participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) "because ...
Health 7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Swiss scientists reveal the mechanism responsible for aging hidden deep within mitochondria—and dramatically slow it down in worms by administering antibiotics to the young.
9 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (5) | 0 |
Researchers from Queen Mary, University of London have led the largest sequencing study of human disease to date, investigating the genetic basis of six autoimmune diseases.
9 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion—the emotional state of caring for people who are suffering in a way that motivates altruistic behavior.
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 2 |
(HealthDay)—Migraines and depression can each cause a great deal of suffering, but new research indicates the combination of the two may be linked to something else entirely—a smaller brain.
6 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
A new approach for immunizing against influenza elicited a more potent immune response and broader protection than the currently licensed seasonal influenza vaccines when tested in mice and ferrets. The vaccine ...
6 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
In a series of lab experiments designed to unravel the workings of a key enzyme widely considered a possible trigger of rheumatoid arthritis, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that in the most severe ...
8 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |