Good reasons to be physically active.
Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School.
National Center For Biotechnology Information reports a study where older adults were assigned to either a higher or lower physical activity group, and event-related potentials were recorded during assessments of a modified Sternberg task. The results indicated that older adults in the higher physical activity group exhibited shorter response times, independent of the working memory load. Enhanced P3 and N1 amplitudes and a decreased P3 latency were observed in the higher physical activity group. These findings suggested that physical activity facilitates working memory by allocating more attentional resources and increasing the efficiency of evaluating the stimulus during the retrieval phase as well as engaging more attentional resources for the early discriminative processes during the encoding phase of a working memory task.
Human Kinetics Journals report that extensive research has shown the positive effects of exercise on cognition. Intervention designs in loads of 60–80% 1RM with approximately seven movements in two sets separated by 2 min of rest at least twice per week for 2–12 months (usually 6 months) could positively affect cognition, including information-processing speed, attention, memory formation, and specific types of executive function.
The studies suggest that fitness enhances cognitive strategies that allow you to respond effectively to a challenge with improvement in your task performance. More active or higher fit individuals are able to process information more quickly. New evidence indicates that exercise influences cognitive health by affecting molecular events related to the management of energy metabolism.