TUESDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Regular workouts not only do
a body good, they may improve the mind as well, a new review of the
data on the subject finds.
Human brains seem to benefit from regular aerobic exercise and
strength training, the study found, but the researchers added that
more investigation is needed to determine how exercise affects
brain structure and function.
In their report, published in the online edition of the
Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers led by Michelle W. Voss, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, reviewed 111 prior studies. They found that both aerobic exercise and strength training are key to brain health and good cognition.
The study revealed that aerobic exercise during childhood,
especially, is essential to the development of cognitive abilities
that remain important throughout life. Experts have long known that
being sedentary is associated with poorer academic performance, the
research team pointed out. In contrast, exercise programs have been
shown to improve people's memory, attention and decision-making
The study authors offered a few possible reasons why brain
health might get a boost from regular exercise. After examining
previous animal studies, they suggested that exercise might alter
people's brain structure, triggering the growth of new nerve cells
and blood vessels. Physical activity also increases the production
of certain brain chemicals that promote the growth and repair of
brain cells, they said.
But they added that more research is needed to examine the
individual effects of different types of exercise on brain health
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about the
health benefits of exercise.