A recent study reported in the journal NeuroImage, suggest that greater cardiorespiratory fitness relates to stronger brain connections and likely improves long-term brain function as we age. Specifically the strength of connections between different regions of the brain — vary with fitness level in older adults. The study confirms what many of us believe; play improves brain function at all ages! Play improves brain function at all ages!
This study offers the strongest evidence to date that fitness in an older adult population can have substantial benefits for brain health regarding the functional connections between different regions of the brain.
Fitness in an older adult population can have substantial benefits for brain health
There are many ways to measure brain health during our lives. One popular technique measures the strength of connections between different parts of the brain while the person is completing a task or during wakeful rest, known as resting-state functional connectivity.
Research has repeatedly shown, that some of these connections weaken with increasing age and indicate deteriorating brain health, the researchers note.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, lead researcher Michelle Voss and her colleagues measured the strength of these connections throughout the brain in younger and older adults at rest. As one may expect, the researchers confirmed that most associations were weaker for older adults when compared with younger adults.
Building on the studies findings, the researchers examined the role of cardiorespiratory fitness on resting brain connectivity in older adults.
Other factors aside from routine physical activity could alter how fitness affects brain health. For example, a person’s genetic makeup can influence his or her fitness and general brain health, the researchers said.
There maybe a fitness protection against age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
They did find a relationship between fitness and the strength of the connections between certain brain regions in older adults at rest that was independent of their level of physical activity.
Play Improves Brain Function At All Ages
The study showed that the benefits of fitness seem to occur within the low-to-moderate range of endurance, suggesting that the benefits of fitness for the brain may not depend on being incredibly fit.
The concept that fitness could be related to brain health regardless of one’s physical activity levels is exciting because it suggests there could be clues in how the body adapts to some people more than others from having a normal level of regular activity. Clearly, there maybe a fitness protection against age-related cognitive decline and dementia.
Everyone at all ages should go out and play daily! It does the body, mind, and spirit good.