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J Mol Neurosci. 2004;24(1):9-14.

Neurocognitive aging and cardiovascular fitness: recent findings and future directions.

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Beckman Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


In the first century, ce, the Roman satirist Juneval famously observed Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano, or "A sound mind in a sound body is something to be prayed for." This implicit link between mental and physical health, also paralleled by Eastern philosophies and practices such as tai chi, has survived the millennia since Juneval and his contemporaries. More recently, controlled examinations of the effects of physical fitness on cognitive performance have shown that improving cardiovascular fitness (CVF) can help to reduce the deleterious effects of age on cognition and brain structure. Thus, as we age, it may well be the case that a sound mind is a natural concomitant of a sound body. Numerous cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have examined the effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance in aging humans since earlier studies, which found that physically fit older adults performed better on simple cognitive tasks than their less-fit counterparts. This base of knowledge recently has been furthered through examinations of cortical structure (Colcombe et al., 2003) and neurocognitive function in aging humans via functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging techniques. In this manuscript, we will briefly review some of our recent research on the effects of CVF on brain function, structure, and behavior in older adults. We will then outline some of our current and future directions in this area.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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