Cardiorespiratory exercises linked to improved cognition

New research indicates that cardiorespiratory exercises may improve areas of the brain associated with cognitive decline.

2 min read

In prior research studies, cardio-exercises have shown to promote a healthier lifestyle and boost mental health. New research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, takes its efficiency a step forward, indicating cardiorespiratory exercises may improve areas of the brain associated with cognitive decline.

To reach these findings, researchers studied 2,103 adult participants, aged 21 to 84, through two population-based cohorts between June 2008 through September 2012. In the study, two areas: gray matter and total volume, were examined to identify any changes between cardio-exercises and cognitive function.

Using a stationary bike, the participants were instructed to undergo cardiorespiratory fitness routines, all while researchers measured peak oxygen uptake. MRI brain scans were taken thereafter.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness was measured using peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), oxygen uptake at the anaerobic threshold, and maximal power output from cardiopulmonary exercise testing on a bicycle ergometer,” the study states.

“Magnetic resonance imaging brain data were analyzed by voxel-based morphometry using regression models with adjustment for age, sex, education, smoking, body weight, systolic blood pressure, glycated hemoglobin level, and intracranial volume.”

According to researchers, the results concluded that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) exercises had beneficial effects on brain health. Upon examining the fitness routines it was determined that increased peak oxygen uptake was significantly correlated with more gray matter volume.

“Cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with gray matter (GM) volume, total brain volume, and specific GM and white matter clusters in brain areas not primarily involved in movement processing,” researchers concluded.

“These results, from a representative population sample, suggest that CRF might contribute to improved brain health and might, therefore, decelerate pathology-specific GM decrease.”

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