CALGARY, Alberta, Jan. 9 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Calgary find older women who are more physically fit have better cognitive function.
The study, published in the international journal Neurobiology of Aging, finds that physical fitness helps the brain function at the top of its game because physical activity benefits blood flow in the brain and, as a result, aids cognitive abilities.
"Being sedentary is now considered a risk factor for stroke and dementia," Poulin says in a statement. "This study proves for the first time that people who are fit have better blood flow to their brain. Our findings also show that better blood flow translates into improved cognition."
The study compares two groups of Calgary women whose average age was 65 -- some who took part in regular aerobic activity and some who were inactive.
The scientists found that compared to the inactive group, the active group had 10 percent lower resting and exercising arterial blood pressure, 5 percent higher vascular responses in the brain during submaximal exercise and when levels of carbon dioxide in the blood were elevated, and 10 percent higher cognitive function scores.
"Something as simple as getting out for a walk every day is critical to staying mentally sharp and remaining healthy as we age," Poulin says.