View Full Version : Responses Re Which Exercises are Best for Both the Brain and theBody?

04-27-2009, 08:50 AM
Dear Colleagues,

Here is a summary of the responses re "Which exercises are best for both
the brain and the body?";

Dr Hyun Gu Kang (Institute for Aging Research, Boston University)
suggested that aerobic exercise seems to make sense mostly because
cardiovascular risk factors lead to brain lesions. He commented that
despite the huge interest in assessing balance in older adults, no
consensus exists on which balance measure is most useful in
understanding fall risk. He also mentioned research with "posturography
measures" using the RNH MOBILIZE Boston dataset of 765
community-dwelling older adults to determine the most useful postural
sway measures to predict prospective falls.

Waneen Spirduso (University of Texas) has just finished editing (with
Leonard Poon and Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko) the 3rd of three volumes in a
book series called "Aging, Exercise, and Cognition" published by Human
He provided these references:

1. Poon, Chodzko-Zajko, & Tomporowski (2006). "Active Living,
Cognitive Functioning, and Aging; Volume 1", [Human Kinetics, Champagne,

2. Spirduso, Poon, & Chodzko-Zajko (2008). Exercise and its
Mediating Effects on Cognition; volume 2. Champagne, IL, Human

3. Chodzko-Zajko, Kramer, & Poon (2009 - April). Enhancing
Cognitive Functioning and Brain Plasticity: Volume 3. Champagne, IL,
Human Kinetics.

Waneen said that the findings of research with rats suggest that aerobic
exercise that might be responsible for beneficial cognitive changes but
there is a dearth of good research supporting a dose-response
relationship between aerobic exercise and cognition. He has addressed
this subject in detail in Chapter 14 of Volume 2. He commented that
research has already established that for old adults exercise does not
have to be very intense to have a benefit.

Avril Mansfield said that she has heard that ballroom dancing is the
overall best type of exercise to do because it includes an aerobic
component and coordination. Apparently learning complex choreography is
good for memory/cognitive function and the social aspect is good for
mental health/mood. Luckily we received some information on this very

Dr Vassilia Hatzitaki (Motor Control and Learning Laboratory, Aristotle
University of Thessaloniki) commented that any kind of exercise is good
for your brain and the more complicated the exercise is, the greater the
impact on the brain's activation patterns is. The findings of a study on
the effects of a 10-wk traditional Greek dance program on static and
dynamic balance indices in healthy elderly adults supported the use of
traditional dance as an effective means of physical activity for
improving static and dynamic balance control in the elderly (Sofianidis
et al, 2009). Dance practice significantly increased the range of trunk
rotation and significantly decreased center-of-pressure (COP) variations
and trunk sway in a 1-leg (OL) stance. She provided this reference:

G Sofianidis, V Hatzitaki, S Douka, and G Grouios, (2009), "Effect of a
10-Week Traditional Dance Program on Static and Dynamic Balance Control
in Elderly Adults", Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 2009, 17, pp

Similarly a study on the impact of visually guided weight shifting (WS)
practice on the postural adjustments of elderly women concluded that it
enhances the ability of the elderly to use on-line "visuo-motor
processing" to avoid collisions (Hatzitaki et al, 2009). Here is the

V. Hatzitaki, D. Voudouris, T Nikodelis and I Amiridis, (2009), "Visual
feedback training improves postural adjustments associated with moving
obstacle avoidance in elderly women", Gait & Posture, 29, (2009), pp

Professor Gordon Chalmers (Western Washington University) provided the
following reference. Liu-Ambrose and Donaldson (2009) have recommended
clinicians should consider encouraging their clients to undertake both
aerobic-based exercise training and resistance training not only for
"physical health" but also because of their benefits for "brain health".
They suggest that resistance training may prevent cognitive decline
among seniors via mechanisms involving insulin-like growth factor I and
homocysteine. Resistance training also has a role in reducing morbidity
among seniors and moderating the development of sarcopenia and its
harmful consequences (such as the increased risk of falls, fractures and
physical disability).

T Liu-Ambrose and M Donaldson, (2009), "Exercise and cognition in older
adults: is there a role for resistance training programmes?", British
Journal of Sports Medicine, 2009, 43, pp 25-27. See

Last (but not least) I received two informative responses from here in
Australia. Professor Rob Newton at the Vario Health Institute (Edith
Cowan University, Joondalup, WA) informed me that they have just
completed a 12 month exercise intervention in 300 older people (65+)
with both physical and cognitive outcomes (in what is probably the
largest such study to date) and they are also doing a lot of research on
Parkinson's Disease where they are examining both the physiological and
cognitive the outcomes.

Peter Sinclair (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney) said
that Professor Maria Fiatarone Singh (their Professor of Exercise
Science) has a project underway looking at the effects of resistance
training on cognitive function in the elderly. An earlier study found
that worksite interventions to give workers more exercise can also
improve sleep quality (Atlantis et al, October 2006). Generally programs
of this type appear to benefit both mental and physical health. An
earlier program had shown that a 24-week Multimodal exercise program
(comprising both aerobic and weight-training exercises) combined with a
behavior modification for mental health and quality of life was
effective for treating depressive symptoms and improved stress symptoms
(Atlantis et al, 2004) Here are the references:

Atlantis E, Chow CM, Kirby A, Singh M, (2006), "Worksite intervention
effects on sleep quality: a randomized controlled trial", J Occup Health
Psychol, 2006 Oct, 11, (4), pp 291-304.

Atlantis E, Chow CM, Kirby A, Singh M, (2004), "An effective
exercise-based intervention for improving mental health and quality of
life measures: a randomized controlled trial", Prev Med, 2004 Aug, 39,
(2), pp 424-34.

That's the lot.


David McFarlane MAppSc (Ergonomics)
Ergonomist, WorkCover NSW


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