Study Shows Working Out Aids the Brain

Exercising boosts cognition and protects the mind.

A mature couple lifts weights together, a workout for the body and mind.

(pikselstock /

Eating well and exercising are recommended to everyone at each stage in life. And as one ages, exercise may offer much more than maintaining a healthy ‘number on the scale.’ Keeping active also protects your mind, according to a recent study from the University of Georgia in Athens that was published in Sport Sciences for Health.

Researchers found that fitness and physical activity have a positive effect on executive function. They used results from neuropsychological testing, MRIs, and fitness measurements on 51 older adults.

Researchers measured levels of fitness by asking participants to walk as quickly as they could for six minutes, and then noted how much distance was covered, according to the university's UGA Today. They could then assess the relationship between physical activity and cognitive performance.

Fitness protects the brain
They found that those who achieved better results in the six-minute walk also scored better for cognitive function, reported Oxygen Magazine. This indicates that being fit could protect  one’s brain during aging.

“This finding isn’t saying, ‘If you’re older, you need to go out there and start running marathons,’” Marissa Gogniat, lead author of the study, told UGA Today. “This is saying if you get more steps, if you’re moving around your environment a little bit more, that can be helpful to your brain health and keep you more independent as you age,” Gogniat added.

Aside from using fitness to maintain brain health, researchers now understand that exercise can also help those whose brain networks are not optimal. These affected networks control basic tasks such as recalling important information and demonstrating self-control, functions that are often challenging for aging people.

Simply walk around more
Gogniat says in UGA Today that one does not have to radically change their life. “Maybe just take the stairs on the way to work. Stand up and walk around a little bit more. That's where you get the most bang for your buck, not crazy, high-intensity exercise,” Gogniat explained.

If you are not motivated to go to the gym or head outside for a walk, just remember that working out improves wellness across the whole body, including muscles, heart, and brain.

Physical activity is also good for your sense of well-being and happiness. And, as it changes your brain, it may offer positive benefits for many years to come.

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