Even gentle exercise three times a week could help to improve people's cognitive functioning, maintain networks in the brain and fight off the mental decay associated with aging. Researchers from Illinois University studied 100 people, aged between 18 and 35 and 59 and 80. The participants had previously led very sedentary lives. Some of the participants walked three times a week, at their own pace, for 40 minutes while others did toning exercises. The participants had brain scans at the start of the study and after six months and a year and took tests to measure their cognitive function. At the end of the year the older participants who had exercised by walking had better connections in their brain than those who had done toning and stretching and they also did significantly better on cognitive tests, being better at planning, prioritising, deciding on strategies and multitasking.
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