The past two decades have uncovered the beneficial relation of physical activity and other health behaviors on brain and cognition, with the majority of data emerging from older adult populations. More recently, a similar research thread has emerged in school-aged children, which offers insight into the relation of physical activity to scholastic performance, providing a real-world application of the benefits observed in the laboratory. Technological advances have similarly furthered our understanding of physical activity effects on cognitive and brain health. Given this emerging body of work, this manuscript reviews the basic findings within the field, but more importantly suggests triggers or signals from the emerging literature that will shape the field in the near future. The overall goal of this body of research is to increase cognitive and brain health to promote effective functioning of individuals across the lifespan.
Run for Your Life! Childhood Physical Activity Effects on Brain and Cognition
Charles H. Hillman, Kirk I. Erickson, and Bradley D. Hatfield
The Acute Effects of Different Exercise Intensities on Associative Novel Word Learning in Healthy Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Marie-Pier McSween, Katie L. McMahon, Kylie Maguire, Jeff S. Coombes, Amy D. Rodriguez, Kirk I. Erickson, and David A. Copland
Recent studies show positive effects of acute exercise on language learning in young adults with lower baseline learning abilities; however, this is yet to be investigated in older adults. This study investigated the acute effects of different exercise intensities on new word learning in healthy older adults with lower and higher baseline learning abilities. Sixty older adults (mean age = 66.4 (4.6); 43 females) performed either a single bout of stretching exercise, moderate-intensity continuous exercise, or high-intensity interval exercise followed by a word learning task. In lower baseline learners, between-group differences were observed on immediate new word recall success, with the moderate-intensity continuous exercise group performing better than the stretching group. These findings suggest immediate benefits of moderate-intensity continuous exercise that are limited to word learning performance of older adults with lower baseline learning abilities. Further investigation into underlying mechanisms could lead to a better understanding of individual differences in responding to acute exercise.
The Scientific Foundation for the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition
Kenneth E. Powell, Abby C. King, David M. Buchner, Wayne W. Campbell, Loretta DiPietro, Kirk I. Erickson, Charles H. Hillman, John M. Jakicic, Kathleen F. Janz, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, William E. Kraus, Richard F. Macko, David X. Marquez, Anne McTiernan, Russell R. Pate, Linda S. Pescatello, and Melicia C. Whitt-Glover
Background: The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report provides the evidence base for the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition. Methods: The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee addressed 38 questions and 104 subquestions selected for their public health relevance, potential to inform public policies and programs, maturity of the relevant science, and applicability to the general US population. Rigorous systematic literature searches and literature reviews were performed using standardized methods. Results: Newly described benefits of physical activity include reduced risk of excessive weight gain in children and adults, incidence of 6 types of cancer, and fall-related injuries in older people. Physical activity is associated with enhanced cognitive function and mental health across the life span, plus improved mental health and physical function. There is no threshold that must be exceeded before benefits begin to accrue; the accrual is most rapid for the least active individuals. Sedentary time is directly associated with elevated risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, incident cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, and selected cancer sites. A wide range of intervention strategies have demonstrated success in increasing physical activity. Conclusion: The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report provides compelling new evidence to inform physical activity recommendations, practice, and policy.