Walking helps your brain

Walking helps your brain

Here’s some news to get the senior citizens off the couch.

Even moderate exercise — walking for 40 minutes three times a week, for example — can improve brain function in older people.

Previous studies have shown aerobic exercise enhances brain function. A new study by University of Illinois researchers looked at the effect of moderate exercise on connections between brain circuits.

The study was done by psychology professor and Beckman Institute Director Art Kramer, kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley and doctoral student Michelle Voss. They looked at 65 sedentary adults, ages 59 to 80, who joined either a walking group or a stretching and toning group for a year,  according to a report on the research by the UI News Bureau.

The study measured their brain activity using MRI.

Brain networks become less connected as people age. The study found that older people who exercise are better at moving from a state of rest in brain activity (such as when they are passively observing something and not focusing on a particular task) to becoming engaged with the outside world. They are also better at planning, prioritizing, strategizing and multi-tasking.

The study was published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience and supported by the National Institute on Aging.

Here’s a link to the research paper abstract. And here’s a link to the News Bureau report.

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