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Exercise Good for Brain, Expert Says

Update Date: Feb 18, 2013 05:13 AM EST

Exercising isn't just good for your body, but also helps improve mental abilities, according to an expert on the role of physical fitness on cognitive performance, Art Kramer, who is a professor of psychology from University of Illinois.

"Populations throughout the industrialized world are becoming increasing sedentary as a result of the changing nature of work and leisure activities. As a result of these societal changes, increases in diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers are increasing. Physical activity serves to reduce susceptibility to these diseases," Kramer said in a news release.

Kramer's studies have found that walking just three times a week helps improve mental ability.

According to a recent study published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, aerobic exercise is better than mental exercises in keeping the brain healthy in old age. Exercise has also been found to be helpful in protecting from future stress and anxiety.

Exercise boosts life expectancy, even in those who are obese, a recent study published in the journal PLOS Medicine had found. Researchers from this study had reported that moderate to vigorous activities like brisk walking can add some 3.5 years or more to the life span of a person.

"Increased physical activity also has direct, and relatively rapid effects on cognition and brain health. Such results have now been reported, over the course of several decades, in animal studies of physical activity," he said.

Kramer's study was presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, Feb. 16.

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