It has become clear over the last few years that one of the many benefits of regular physical exercise is a better functioning brain.
In a recent review paper Erickson and Kramer (2009)1 noted the following:
- People who exercise regularly have larger volumes of grey matter in important regions of the brain, including the prefrontal, parietal and temporal lobes. They also have a greater volume of white matter in the corpus callosum. (Grey matter contains the neurons that process information in the brain. White matter helps disperse the information rapidly to other regions of the brain.)
- Participants who follow an aerobic exercise plan over a 6 month period perform better on cognitive tasks such as task switching and selective attention tasks.
The authors conclude that regular exercise can act as a preventative measure against age-related cognitive decline and also as a treatment to reverse declines already present.
We know from clinical trials that Posit Science’s cognitive training programs improve brain functioning in many important ways. A brain that is physiologically better functioning is likely to be more receptive to cognitive training. Therefore combining physical and cognitive training should server to optimize brain function. A number of researchers are currently running clinical trials to examine this issue. The first results should be available later this year.
- Erickson, K. I. & Kramer, A. F. Aerobic exercise effects on cognitive and neural plasticity in older adults. Br J Sports Med 43, 22-24 (2009).