An exercise study that examined story recollection abilities of older adults has found significant improvements in memory and in activity in parts of the brain that control cognitive function, investigators say.
The study involved 33 adults aged 71 to 85 years old with either intact cognition or diagnosed mild cognitive impairment. Participants walked on a treadmill four days a week for 12 weeks under supervision. They also received functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Investigators used the fMRI images to measure changes in communication between three brain networks.
Physical and mental fitness
Before and after each exercise regimen, participants were asked to read a short story and then repeat it verbally in detail. At 12 weeks, both participant groups were found to have an overall 10.5% enhancement in cardiorespiratory fitness and significant improvements in story recall abilities.
In addition, imaging results showed signs of positive change, the researchers reported. “The brain activity was stronger and more synchronized, demonstrating exercise actually can induce the brain’s ability to change and adapt,” J. Carson Smith, of the University of Maryland said in a statement. “These results provide even more hope that exercise may be useful as a way to prevent or help stabilize people with mild cognitive impairment and maybe, over the long term, delay their conversion to Alzheimer’s dementia.”
The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports.
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