Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fit Body / Fit Brain?

This past year brought a lot of research about the brain and body fitness connection. Research is showing that both aerobic training and strength training seem to improve brain function as we age.
In one study, brain scans of aerobically fit, elderly men showed that their brains functioned as efficiently as much younger men, and much more efficiently than their sedentary counterparts (Kazuki et al., 2016).

In another study, elderly women who did weight training two times per week for one year, had less small lesions in the white matter of their brain compared to women who did stretching or balance training. They also had less brain lesions than women who hit the gym just once per week. White matter connects different parts of the brain and is critical for memory and thinking (Bolandzadeh et al., 2015).

An identical twin study showed that the twin who had greater leg strength also had greater brain volume ten years later. There was a connection between leg strength and cognitive thinking skills too. The more powerful the legs, the better the score on cognitive thinking tests (Steves, Mehta, Jackson, Spector, 2015).

I don't know about you, but I'm hitting the weights next!

Jennifer Widstrom, MS Ex Phys
Wellness Programmer

Bolandzadeh, N., Tam, R., Handy, TC., Nagamatsu, LS, Davis JC., Dao, E., Beattie, BL., Liu-Ambrose,T. (2015). Resistance training and white matter lesion progression in older women: exploratory analysis of a 12-month randomized controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2015 Oct; 63(10):2052-2060. doi: 10.1111/jgs.13644.

Kazuki Hyodoa, Ippeita Danb, Yasushi Kyutokub, Kazuya Suwabea, Kyeongho Byuna, D., Genta Ochia, Morimasa Katoc, Hideaki Soyaa, (2016).The association between aerobic fitness and cognitive function in older men mediated by frontal lateralization. NeuroImage 125(15), 291-300.

Steves CJ., Mehta MM., Jackson SH., Spector TD. (2015)
Kicking back cognitive ageing: leg power predicts cognitive ageing after ten years in older female twins. Gerontology, 2015 Nov 10