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Optimal Brain Function and Exercise

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PLOSOne published a study on the effects of exercise on cognition in individuals older than 65 year. 100 sedentary individuals with no cognitive deficits and who were not insulin-dependent diabetics, had no significant hearing or visual problems, and no major cardiorespiratory or musculoskeletal impairments in the last two years, were recruited for the study. They were then randomized to either no intervention, 75, 150, or 225 minutes of semi-supervised aerobic exercise per week. The study was conducted over a 26 week period of time. Over the course of the intervention, those who exercised had improved cardiorespiratory fitness, with those exercising longer and more intensely having the greatest benefit. All the exercise groups improved their attention span and their visuospatial processing, with more intense exercise having more benefit. Those who adhered to the protocols saw more improvement than those who didn't. An individual's cardiorespiratory fitness at the end of the study was the best predictor of cognitive gains.
This study is interesting because it was prospective: they all started out the same, and those that exercised improved compared to those who didn't. It is also interesting because even those in the 75 minutes per week group showed improvement. However, more was better.

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