, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 213-221

Enhancing brain and cognitive function of older adults through fitness training

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The present article provides a brief review of the human and animal literature that has investigated the relationship between fitness training and brain and cognitive function. The animal research clearly suggests that improvements in fitness can lead to both morphological and functional changes in the brains of older animals. Results of a recent meta-analysis suggest that fitness training can also have beneficial effects on human cognition, particularly on tasks requiring executive control processing. These effects are also moderated by a number of factors, including the proportion of men and women in the intervention studies, the length of training sessions, the age of the participants, and the combination of fitness training regimes. The article also discusses preliminary results that link, for the first time, fitness training and differences in human brain structure and function. Finally, we discuss the important issue of participant adherence to fitness training programs and the factors that influence fitness participation.