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Fitness Can Improve Thinking Among Aging

The above mentioned headline emanates from the February 17, 2004 Associated Press, and provides seniors hope for a vital life. Researchers at the University of Illinois reported that improving fitness can increase the thinking ability of aging adults. The research published in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, indicated that adults ages 58 to 78 who began an exercise program, even as simple as brisk walking, saw improvements in how their brains functioned.

In the study 41 adults began a fitness program that gradually increased over 3 months to a 45-minute walk 3 times each week. Their brain activity was measured by magnetic resonance imaging. After 3 months the adults in the workout program showed increased brain activity and had an 11 percent improvement on tests that measured their decision-making while conducting an assortment of tasks. A control group of similar age and health that only did stretching and toning exercises, however, not the cardiovascular walking program, had lower brain activity than the other group and only showed a 2 percent improvement in performance. Arthur F. Kramer of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at Illinois explained, "The kinds of tasks that we explored resemble those encountered in real world situations just like driving a car or any endeavor that will require anyone to concentrate despite distractions."

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