Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations.
ABSTRACT Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise has the potential to improve executive functioning, even in healthy populations. The purpose of this review is to elucidate which components of executive functioning benefit from such exercise in healthy populations. In light of the developmental time course of executive functions, we consider separately children, young adults, and older adults. Data to date from studies of aging provide strong evidence of exercise-linked benefits related to task switching, selective attention, inhibition of prepotent responses, and working memory capacity; furthermore, cross-sectional fitness data suggest that working memory updating could potentially benefit as well. In young adults, working memory updating is the main executive function shown to benefit from regular exercise, but cross-sectional data further suggest that task-switching and posterror performance may also benefit. In children, working memory capacity has been shown to benefit, and cross-sectional data suggest potential benefits for selective attention and inhibitory control. Although more research investigating exercise-related benefits for specific components of executive functioning is clearly needed in young adults and children, when considered across the age groups, ample evidence indicates that regular engagement in aerobic exercise can provide a simple means for healthy people to optimize a range of executive functions.
SourceAvailable from: Johannes Fleckenstein[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Physical activity exerts a variety of long-term health benefits in older adults. In particular, it is assumed to be a protective factor against cognitive decline and dementia. Randomised controlled assessor blinded 2-armed trial (n = 60) to explore the exercise- induced neuroprotective and metabolic effects on the brain in cognitively healthy older adults. Participants (age > 65), recruited within the setting of assisted living facilities and newspaper advertisements are allocated to a 12-week individualised aerobic exercise programme intervention or a 12-week waiting control group. Total follow-up is 24 weeks. The main outcome is the change in cerebral metabolism as assessed with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging reflecting changes of cerebral N-acetyl-aspartate and of markers of neuronal energy reserve. Imaging also measures changes in cortical grey matter volume. Secondary outcomes include a broad range of psychometric (cognition) and movement-related parameters such as nutrition, history of physical activity, history of pain and functional diagnostics. Participants are allocated to either the intervention or control group using a computer-generated randomisation sequence. The exercise physiologist in charge of training opens sealed and opaque envelopes and informs participants about group allocation. For organisational reasons, he schedules the participants for upcoming assessments and exercise in groups of five. All assessors and study personal other than exercise physiologists are blinded. Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging gives a deeper insight into mechanisms of exercise-induced changes in brain metabolism. As follow-up lasts for 6 months, this study is able to explore the mid-term cerebral metabolic effects of physical activity assuming that an individually tailored aerobic ergometer training has the potential to counteract brain ageing. NCT02343029 (clinicaltrials.gov; 12 January 2015).Trials 04/2015; 16(1):155. DOI:10.1186/s13063-015-0662-9 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: There is a substantial interest in identifying interventions that can protect and buffer older adults from atrophy in the cortex and particularly, the hippocampus, a region important to memory. We report the 2-year effects of a randomized controlled trial of an intergenerational social health promotion program on older men's and women's brain volumes. The Brain Health Study simultaneously enrolled, evaluated, and randomized 111 men and women (58 interventions; 53 controls) within the Baltimore Experience Corps Trial to evaluate the intervention impact on biomarkers of brain health at baseline and annual follow-ups during the 2-year trial exposure. Intention-to-treat analyses on cortical and hippocampal volumes for full and sex-stratified samples revealed program-specific increases in volumes that reached significance in men only (P's ≤ .04). Although men in the control arm exhibited age-related declines for 2 years, men in the Experience Corps arm showed a 0.7% to 1.6% increase in brain volumes. Women also exhibited modest intervention-specific gains of 0.3% to 0.54% by the second year of exposure that contrasted with declines of about 1% among women in the control group. These findings showed that purposeful activity embedded within a social health promotion program halted and, in men, reversed declines in brain volume in regions vulnerable to dementia. NCT0038. Copyright © 2015 The Alzheimer's Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.Alzheimer's & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer's Association 03/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jalz.2014.12.005 · 17.47 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Cognitive training has received a lot of attention recently, yielding findings that can be conflicting and controversial. In this paper, we present a novel approach to cognitive training based on complex motor activities. In a randomized controlled design, participants were assigned to one of three conditions: aerobic exercise, working memory training or designed sport - an intervention specifically tailored to include both physical and cognitive demands. After training for eight weeks, the designed sport group showed the largest gains in all cognitive measures, illustrating the efficacy of complex motor activities to enhance cognition. Designed sport training also revealed impressive health benefits, namely decreased heart rate and blood pressure. In this period of skepticism over the efficacy of computerized cognitive training, we discuss the potential of ecological interventions targeting both cognition and physical fitness, and propose some possible applications. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.