Researchers from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology have revealed a link between high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, brain activity and executive function in the elderly.
Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability of the heart and lungs to absorb, transport and utilize oxygen over an extended period of time. A person with a high cardiorespiratory fitness level can perform more intense exercises for longer periods of time – while using less oxygen.
A person can improve their cardiorespiratory endurance through physical conditioning and aerobic exercises like walking, running, cycling, swimming and group fitness aerobic classes. Aerobic training is best suited to improve cardiorespiratory endurance because it increases the size and number of mitochondria in the muscle cells. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of cells and are necessary for energy production.
Aging is often associated with cognitive decline, but previous research has shown that higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels among the elderly can boost brain power and increase brain volume.
First author of the paper Chelsea Wong said, “Previous studies have shown that there’s a relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and behavioral performance in older adults. Other studies have looked at cardiorespiratory fitness and brain function, but really linking all three of those hasn’t been quite been done as explicitly as we did in this paper.”
Brain images and fitness level data was analyzed from 128 adults between the ages of 59 and 80.
FMRI scans allowed researchers to locate which regions of the brain were activated when a person was partaking in two simultaneous activities as opposed to one. Wong added, “The reason we looked at dual-task specifically is because it’s a measure of executive function, which is required for multiple cognitive processes, such as working memory, task management, coordination, and inhibition. We know that as people age, executive function declines, so we found that with higher cardiorespiratory fitness, you can enhance executive function performance behaviorally as well as executive function-related brain activation.”
This is yet another study which reveals the benefits of physical activity, especially among the elderly, as a mean to not only boost brain power but benefit overall health.
Executive function is a set of mental skills which allow us to complete tasks. Executive function is used in scenarios like time management, paying attention, planning, organizing and remembering details.
When executive functions become impaired – especially in the elderly – there can be negative effects associated with these changes. Effects of impaired executive functions in the elderly are:
Improving brain power is as easy as boosting your cardiorespiratory endurance, which no matter your current fitness level can start off low and develop further over time. Here is a list of best cardiorespiratory exercises in order to improve brain power.
These activities can be started by beginners, and as cardiorespiratory endurance improves the activities can be done more intensely.
Aside from a boost in brain power and better executive function, there are other health benefits associated with high cardiorespiratory endurance, including:
As you can see cardiorespiratory exercises can help promote better health overall by improving the function of many important organs and aspects of health.
Similar to how you can improve brain function through cardiorespiratory endurance, you can also improve executive function as well. Here are some tips to improve executive functions of the brain.
Researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center have shown that seniors can greatly benefit from exercise when it comes to boosting brain health. With this study researchers wanted to know how much exercise was needed to improve the cognitive function. Participants were 65 and older with no signs of cognitive impairment. Continue reading…
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