15 Tue

Does exercise change your brain?

Does exercise change your brain?

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CGFI


The New York Times had a recent article about exercise in the elderly. They outlined a study on a 95-year-old senior Olympic athlete who had not started serious athletic training till she was 77.  Her name was Olga Kotelko, and she had travelled to the University of Illinois to let researchers study her brain.

When they scanned her brain, the study showed that her white matter showed fewer abnormalities than others her age, and her hippocampus, the area for processing new memory, was enlarged. However, the researchers did not have a previous scan to compare their findings, so there’s really no reason to think that her exercise regime really did change her brain.

Several other studies have engaged in trying to find out whether exercise does change the brain, but have reached difficult roadblocks in determining a true correlation.  The one thing researchers found that was promising was that cognitive function showed less decline in those elderly who participated in regular exercise.

So even though there is no major direct evidence showing that exercise does change the brain, there really is no downside in participating in exercise programs later in life. There are so many things that can affect brain function as we age, but early results of exercise show promise.  

Exercise programs are beneficial, even if you start later in life.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.



Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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