Strength in brain connectivity in older adults is dependant on the fitness level of the individual. Cardiorespiratory fitness has been found to indicate the strength of brain connections and it can improve function in aging individuals. The findings come from researcher Michelle Voss Ph.D., and Arthur Kramer, Ph.D., and Edward McAuley, Ph.D.
Dr. Kramer said, “Our study provides the strongest evidence to date that fitness in an older adult population can have substantial benefits to brain health in terms of the functional connections of different regions of the brain.”
To measure strength of brain connections you must track a person’s brain while they complete daily tasks or during wakeful rest. These connections have been shown to weaken with aging.
MRI technology allowed Dr. Voss to measure the strength of brain connections in older and younger resting adults. As expected, weaker connections existed in older adults.
The researchers then examined the role of cardiorespiratory fitness on resting brain connectivity in older adults. Fitness is measured by the efficiency of the body to use oxygen during physical activity.
The researchers found a connection between fitness level and brain connections. Dr. Voss said, “An encouraging pattern in the data from our study and others is that the benefits of fitness seem to occur within the low-to-moderate range of endurance, suggesting that the benefits of fitness for the brain may not depend on being extremely fit.”
The study reveals the importance of physical activity in older adults as a means to keep brain connections strong.
Dr. Voss concluded, “The idea that fitness could be related to brain health regardless of one’s physical activity levels is intriguing because it suggests there could be clues in how the body adapts for some people more than others from regular activity. This will help our understanding of how fitness protects against age-related cognitive decline and dementia.”