Exercise Enhances Seniors' Physical, Mental Functioning

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Exercise and Older Brain

For older Americans, reversal of the brain shrinkage that occurs as people age is just one benefit of greater physical activity, according to research published in the latest issue of The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences (Vol. 61A, No. 11). In a special section devoted to exercising and aging, this edition of the journal features five separate reports on the topic.

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Until recently, scientists believed older brains could not grow new neurons. However, a team at the University of Illinois has evidence showing that three hours of brisk walking per day can trigger biochemical changes that increase production of new brain neurons.

Another article shows that a structured exercise program may boost the physical well-being of sedentary seniors who are at risk of losing independent functioning. This particular conclusion was drawn from the recent Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) pilot study.

Members of the public can purchase this issue of the journal online at www.geron.org for $25.

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