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These studies are also amenable to longitudinal designs, which can more clearly establish causality of structural changes.Physical activity is defined as bodily activity that results in energy expenditure above resting levels (US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Fitness, President’s Council on Physical Fitness, 1998).Collectively these adaptations represent improved cardio-respiratory fitness.This fitness can be quantified by measuring the maximum rate at which an individual can take up and utilize oxygen, known as the “ can be increased with aerobic training, but this effect is modulated by several factors, including the age, the initial level of aerobic fitness, and the intensity, frequency, and duration of training.

Moderate-intensity exercise refers to exercising at sub-maximal workloads, during which energy is supplied by the aerobic energy system.

The benefits of exercise and physical fitness on mental health and cognitive performance are well documented (for reviews see Cotman and Berchtold, 2002; Colcombe and Kramer, 2003; Vaynman and Gomez-Pinilla, 2005; Cotman et al., 2007; Kramer and Erickson, 2007; Chaddock et al., 2010).

There is also a rich literature dating back at least 70years from animal studies documenting the profound structural changes in the brain produced by complex or enriched environments.

This review will explore these questions as well as future directions in the study of the effects of physical activity on the brain.

Several different methodologies have been employed to investigate these questions.

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