No matter what the media says…you need both physical and mental exercise”

Liz ZelinskiQues­tion by Anton Goldberg:
What sur­prised me the most in your inter­view was when you said that phys­i­cal exer­cise does­n’t help improve mem­o­ry as much as men­tal exer­cise does. I get the oppo­site impres­sion when read­ing media reports. Can you point out the research that sup­ports your view? And, if true, why isn’t the media doing a bet­ter job at explain­ing the science?

Answer by Dr. Eliz­a­beth Zelinski:
The research at the time showed that exer­cise improved super­vi­so­ry func­tions like work­ing mem­o­ry and exec­u­tive func­tion and pro­cess­ing speed. These are dif­fer­ent from, say, remem­ber­ing a list of words. It’s what was miss­ing from the pub­lished work. I had noticed it because the ear­ly exer­cise research in the 1970s and 80s gen­er­al­ly failed to improve mem­o­ry. There is some recent evi­dence that spa­tial mem­o­ry is improved with aer­o­bic exer­cise, but it’s only from one lab. I pub­lished a meta-analy­sis in 2012 com­par­ing gains in untrained task per­for­mance after tak­ing out the effect of prac­tice in doing sim­i­lar tasks at pretest and posttest, for both aer­o­bic exer­cise and cog­ni­tive train­ing inter­ven­tions. About 4000 peo­ple in 42 stud­ies were sum­ma­rized. Untrained task improve­ment was sim­i­lar for both types of inter­ven­tions, so phys­i­cal exer­cise isn’t bet­ter, no mat­ter what the media says. As the Sharp­Brains Guide says, though, you need both for health.

> Keep read­ing  Q&A tran­script with Prof. Liz Zelin­s­ki on Cog­ni­tive enhance­ment for healthy aging

Send your brain and brain health ques­tions to oth­er rec­og­nized experts

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

Top Articles on Brain Health and Neuroplasticity

Top 10 Brain Teasers and Illusions


Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Got the book?