Mental And Physical Exercise Provide Different Benefits For Our Brain

 In Naturopathic News
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A recent study released by the Center for BrainHealth, at the University of Texas, has discovered that cognitive brain exercises, and aerobic physical exercises, provide unique benefits to brain function.

Researchers were interested in the positive effects that cognitive and physical training would have on brain function. Thirty-six adults, between the ages of 56 to 75 were recruited, and randomly selected to one of two groups. Individuals were considered to be sedentary at baseline.

Each group participated in either physical, or cognitive training, based on their group assignment. Training involved three hours per week, over a period of 12 weeks. Neurocognitive, physiological data, as well as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), was completed for each individual, in order to monitor changes. The cognitive exercise group participated in Strategic Memory Advanced Reasoning Training (SMART), which focuses in executive functioning. More specifically its purpose is to train strategic attention, the ability to synthesize information on a deeper level, and problem solving. The physical activity group participated in three, 60-minute bouts of activity. This included five minutes of cool down and warm up, with a 50 minutes aerobic exercise component, in the form of walking on a treadmill or cycling. These participants were required to maintain 50 to 75 percent maximum heart rate.

Results showed that participants in the cognitive training group exhibited changes in brain function, along with a 7.9 percent increase in brain flow, when compared to participants in the exercise group. Participants in the aerobic exercise group demonstrated an increase in memory performance, when compared to the cognitive training participants.

Results emphasize that both cognitive and physical activities are necessary to promote overall brain performance and functioning, as each type of training provides different benefits.

raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review ( and NaturalPath (, has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.


Sandra B. Chapman, Sina Aslan, Jeffrey S. Spence, Molly W. Keebler, Laura F. DeFina, Nyaz Didehbani, Alison M. Perez, Hanzhang Lu, Mark D’Esposito. Distinct Brain and Behavioral Benefits from Cognitive vs. Physical Training: A Randomized Trial in Aging Adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2016; 10 DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00338

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