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Responses Re Which Exercises are Best for Both the Brain and theBody?

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  • Responses Re Which Exercises are Best for Both the Brain and theBody?

    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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