A University of Iowa team, headed by Dr. Michelle Voss, examined more than 100 studies on the subject. They found that aerobic activity improves ability to coordinate multiple things, long term planning, and the ability to stay on task for extended periods. Resistance training, such as lifting weights, improves the ability to focus among distractions.
MRIs of people in their 60's showed increases in gray and white matter of the brain just after six months of exercise. This happens in the prefrontal and temporal lobes, sites that usually diminish with age. With exercise they grow.
The hippocampus area of the brain, key for memory formation, shrinks 1% to 2% per year over the age of 60. For the same people, with an exercise regimen, the same region grows by 1% to 2%. Beyond growing one's brain, exercise improves the ability of different parts of the brain to work together. Benefits can be had by simple brisk walking for 45 minutes three times per week.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics
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