Best Exercise for the Brain?
NEW STUDY CONCLUDES IT’S WALKING
Researchers have long known that exercise is good for one’s physical well-being and brain health. But most of the scientific research has focused on gray matter – the material that comprises the outer layer of the brain, which has the highest concentration of neurons. New and interesting research focuses on white matter, which is critical for optimal brain function. In this study, participants were placed into groups and met three times a week for six months. One group took 40-minute walks, one participated in supervised stretching and balance exercise, and one learned and practiced dances. At the end of the intervention, the walkers were the sole group in which changes in white matter were associated with better memory. It’s unclear why the dancers didn’t show those same improvements, although it could be because they received instruction and thus were not moving as vigorously during their sessions, according to the researchers.