A recent article in “Experience Life “magazine by Craig Cox discussed a recent study by Colorado State university neuroscientist Agnieszka Burzynska, PhD.
The brain’s white matter is prone to losing volume & developing lesions that can damage cognitive function as we grow older. In the study published in “Neuroimage”,the team recruited 247 generally healthy, but sedentary, older adults. measuring baseline fitness and cognitive abilities, including their white matter functionality. The volunteers were divided into three groups that gathered three times a week for specific activities. An active control group focused on stretching and balance training, a second group walked at a challenging pace for 40 minutes and a third group practiced line dancing and choreography.
Six months later, Burzynska and her group checked each participant’s fitness and cognitive, to find that those in the walking and dancing groups had improved their aerobic capacity /cognitive function which was no great surprise. A sophisticated MRI revealed improvement in the white matter of the participants The nerve fibers had expanded and tissue lesions had diminished. The changes were greater in the walkers, who also scored better than the dancers on the memory tests.
The control group fared worse. Scans revealed increased damage to the white matter and scores were less on the cognitive tests.
More study is needed Burzynska acknowledged. Also, the study may be enough motivation to get adults outside for a walk.