Accelerating rates of structural decline become evident during the third and fourth decades of human life, with disproportionate degeneration occurring in the frontal, parietal, and temporal brain lobes. As the structure of the brain declines, a broad array of cognitive processes involving memory, decision making, and selective attention are reduced as well (Raz 2000, Park et al. 2001). Cardiovascular exercise has been associated with improved cognitive functioning in aging humans, suggesting that increased vascular supply enhances availability of oxygen, nutrients, and other physical entities to nourish the brain. Previous experimentation on older adults revealed significant positive effects of exercise on a variety of memory types following participation in a program six or more months in duration (Colcombe 2003, Kramer et al.1999). The primary focus of this study was to test the effects of acute aerobic exercise on cognitive functioning of adults over the age of 60. A second purpose was to determine that the positive neurological effects of exercise can start taking place immediately. The hypothesis is that memory retention, mental processing speed, and selective attention would acutely improve in the participants after they had exercised, in comparison to their cognitive state prior to exercise. Cognitive performances both before and after exercise were tested using the Stroop test. All participants completed the post-exercise test with improved scores (p=0.000) indicating an increase in cognitive ability, relating exercise and improved cognitive function.
Pennington, R. and Hanna, S.
"Acute Effects of Exercise on Cognitive Performances of Older Adults,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 67
, Article 19.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol67/iss1/19