Professor Art Kramer, director of the 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 and also hopes that the findings could also be used to help the elderly combat memory loss in old age.
Professor Kramer presented his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Vancouver. He and his team is currently carrying out larger clinical trials on exercise in children and the elderly. He has found that aerobic exercise can improve memory, attention, and the ability to multi-task in otherwise healthy elderly people.
"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. He said: "It is a sad fact of ageing that our brain function decreases as we get older.
"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.
The earlier study findings suggest that regular exercise for more than six months, may increase the hippocampus (part of brain that is associated with memory) in elderly people, which shows effective reversing of brain age by one to two years. "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- said professor.
Fit children perform better
In research that is due to be published later this year, he also found that fitter children are better at crossing the street when distracted by music or holding a conversation on a hands-free mobile phone compared to those who were less fit.
Professor Kramer added: "The low fitness kids were just as good at crossing the street when it was the only thing they were doing. If they were listening to music or talking on the headset, they performed badly. They often ended up with the screen going red to show they had been hit. "One way to look at it is that the high fit kids think more efficiently and so are better at multitasking."
why wait ? put on shoes and start walking....