Regular exercise 'can improve memory and learning'

Exercise is good for health, doctors have always insisted. Now, a new study says an hour's workout daily could help improve improve memory and learning abilities in children as well as the elderly.

Researchers have found that walking or cycling regularly for between six months to a year can help improve memory and problem solving skills in the elderly by between 15 and 20 per cent, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

In their study, the researchers have shown that such exercise increases the size of crucial parts of the brain. Professor Art Kramer, director of Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, who led the research, said their findings could have major implications for improving children's performance at school.

"It is a sad fact of ageing that our brain function decreases as we get older. Increasingly people are also living more sedentary lifestyles. While we know that exercise can have positive effects on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we have found it can bring about improvements in cognition, brain function and brain structure.

"It is aerobic exercise that is important so by starting off doing just 15 minutes a day and working up to 45 minutes to an hour of continuous working we can see some real improvements in cognition after six months to a year.

"We have been able to do a lot of neuroimaging work alongside our studies in the elderly and show that brain networks and structures also change with exercise. Children also seem to benefit and we found aerobically fit children exhibit superior cognitive control to lower fit children."

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