• A new study revealed how aerobic exercises could benefit the brain regardless of age
  • Participants saw an increase in memory and thinking skills, as well as in their physical well-being
  • The study was conducted in a period of six months, and positive effects were seen at the end of the 6th month  

A new study strengthens the phrase “it is never too late to accomplish anything” regardless of age. Researchers say that older adults and even couch potatoes can improve their brain functions and perform better on certain tests if they do some aerobic exercises for six months.

Never Too Late

The study suggests that age must not be a deterrent to wear those sneakers and work up a sweat to improve brain health. According to Marc Poulin, Ph.D., D.Phil., engaging in an exercise program later in life, can benefit your brain immensely. He is a professor at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and the author of the study. His research was published in an online issue of Neurology on May 13, 2020.

While everyone may start to decline mentally and physically with age, this does not mean you cannot do anything to improve your mental and physical state, according to Dr. Poulin. “Sure, aerobic exercise gets the blood moving through your body. As our study found, it may also get the blood moving to your brain, particularly in areas responsible for verbal fluency and executive functions. Our finding may be important, especially for older adults at risk for Alzheimer's and other dementias and brain disease,” he said.

aerobic exercises give benefit regardless of age
aerobic exercises give benefit regardless of age Wokandapix - Pixabay

Six-Month Exercise Intervention

Some of the 206 participants in the study were already performing a moderate-intensity workout for 30 minutes, four days per week. A few of the volunteers were doing 20 minutes of high-intensity workout a day at no more than two days weekly. The average age of the participants is 66 years old, and they have no history of memory or heart problems.

At the start of the study, the volunteers took memory and thinking tests. Physical examination was repeated after three months, and at the end of six months, they were again given a physical and thinking tests. For the entire study period, participants engaged in a supervised aerobic exercise workout conducted three days per week. As they advanced through the program, participants increased their workout from 20-minutes a day to at least 40 minutes daily. They were also asked to perform physical exercises on their own once a week.

The Findings

After six months, researchers found that performances of participants on tests of executive function, which includes self-correction and mental flexibility, improved by 5.7%. Verbal fluency, which determines how quickly one can retrieve information, has increased by around 2.4%. Dr. Poulin said that this “…change in verbal fluency is what you'd expect to see in someone five years younger.” He added that the study has shown that after only six months’ worth of strenuous physical activity, memory and mental sharpness, as well as verbal skill, can improve.