five of those articles focused on studies of older adults with cognitive problems, including 203 participants ranging in age from approximately 64 to 75 years, with 5 to 22 participants per group. aerobic exercise was the most common activity used in the studies, with durations ranging from six weeks to one year and including 60 to 300 minutes of exercise per week.
exercise improved various aspects of cognitive and physical performance
fbnc increased in 10 out of 12 of the study groups, which may indicate improved brain function. on the other hand, control groups showed no change in brain function over the same time period. exercise improved various aspects of cognitive and physical performance, while control groups showed no change or declined over the same period. only one study showed a relationship between changes in fbnc and physical and cognitive function. what this means for cognitive and physical functioning remains unclear. a lack of specific findings is probably due to differences in the way the studies were conducted, the exercises carried out, and the brain networks examined.
the bottom line
exercise may be an effective way of improving brain health in older adults. it might even help delay the neurodegeneration that accompanies aging. but more research is needed.
nick bray is with the department of kinesiology at western university, london, ontario. this article summarizes the systematic review bray nw, pieruccini-faria f, bartha r, doherty tj, nagamatsu ls, montero-odasso m. the effect of physical exercise on functional brain network connectivity in older adults with and without cognitive impairment. a systematic review.
mechanisms of ageing and development
. 2021 apr 19;196:111493. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mad.2021.111493. this summary was written for the canadian society for exercise physiology and has been reviewed by the csep knowledge translation committee