Neuropsychological Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Preventative medicine refers to healthy individuals engaging in activities to prevent themselves from being more susceptible to illness in the future. One of the main preventative medicine initiatives is regular exercise, and it is directed at preventing major health concerns, including heart disease and diabetes. In addition to its cardiovascular benefits, research has shown that exercise has a tremendous benefit for a person’s psychological and neuropsychological functioning. Even in healthy individuals, exercise has been shown to benefit executive functioning and memory abilities. Research has also been done with different age groups (i.e. older adults, adolescents) and with specific clinical populations (i.e. dementia, ADHD) which has shown the benefit of aerobic exercise on neuropsychological functioning. These findings have increased interest in the effects of exercise on neuropsychological functioning and the utility of regular exercise as a preventative medicine technique.
In this video Dr. Perlmutter explains a study of the effects of exercise in individuals diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. This study also highlights the preventative aspect of exercise in this population who is at high risk for future development of Alzheimer’s Disease. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnz_5svEnLo
ABSTRACT: Benefits of Regular Aerobic Exercise for Executive Functioning in Healthy Populations (2013)
Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise has the potential to improve executive functioning, even in healthy populations. The purpose of this review is to elucidate which components of executive functioning benefit from such exercise in healthy populations. In light of the developmental time course of executive functions, we consider separately children, young adults, and older adults. Data to date from studies of aging provide strong evidence of exercise-linked benefits related to task switching, selective attention, inhibition of prepotent responses, and working memory capacity; furthermore, cross-sectional fitness data suggest that working memory updating could potentially benefit as well. In young adults, working memory updating is the main executive function shown to benefit from regular exercise, but cross-sectional data further suggest that task-switching and posterior performance may also benefit. In children, working memory capacity has been shown to benefit, and cross-sectional data suggest potential benefits for selective attention and inhibitory control. Although more research investigating exercise-related benefits for specific components of executive functioning is clearly needed in young adults and children, when considered across the age groups, ample evidence indicates that regular engagement in aerobic exercise can provide a simple means for healthy people to optimize a range of executive functions. (Guiney, H., & Machado, L. (2013). Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 20(1), 73-86. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23229442)
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