Aerobics can improve cognitive processes required for problem-solving and reasoning in adults ages 20 to 67 years, although its effects get better with age, a new study has revealed.
The new study led by researchers from the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons suggests that this may be the first time that a study examined the effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive abilities of people under the age of 55 years.
Aerobic Exercise Works Wonders On The Brain
Yaakov Stern, the senior author of the study, assigned 132 adults ages 20 to 67 years that have below average aerobic capacity to an aerobic program of core-strengthening and stretching workouts. The research participants were evaluated for executive function, language, episodic memory, processing speed, and attention at 12 and 24 weeks.
The findings published in the journal Neurology revealed that there was a notable improvement in the executive functioning of participants of all ages in the aerobic group. In fact, the study found that the executive functions, i.e.reasoning, planning, and problem-solving in participants improved with age after 24 weeks.
However, the findings further showed that aerobic exercise did not improve cognitive functions such as language, processing speed, episodic memory, or attention in participants of all ages.
"Executive function usually peaks around age 30," Stern says, "and I think that aerobic exercise is good at rescuing lost function, as opposed to increasing performance in those without a decline."
Stern further explains that a larger study may be required to identify improvement brought by aerobic exercise in young adults.
What It Means
The research indicates that aerobic exercise can significantly improve the cognition of young adults, suggesting that regular cardiovascular workouts can prevent or delay the appearance of an age-related decline in cognitive functions.
Moreover, the flexibility to choose when and how to exercise can make it easier and more attractive to the general population to adopt aerobics as a way of life.