Exercise May Help You Pay Attention and Achieve Goals

Jan 30, 2019

We all know that exercise is good for physical health, but a new study has found that it may also help you focus, pay attention and achieve goals as you age as well.

The Columbia University study published today in the online issue of the American Academy of Neurology, found that regular aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or climbing stairs may improve a specific set of thinking skills called executive function. Executive function is basically a person’s ability to regulate their own behavior.

The study followed 132 people between the ages of 20 and 67 who did not smoke or have dementia but also did not exercise and had below average fitness levels. Participants who were assigned to an aerobic program, all improved thinking skills over a six-month period. But the greatest improvement was seen in the oldest participants.

At the end of the six months, the 40-year-olds’ executive function tested about 10 years younger than their actual age and the 60-year-olds tested 20 years younger.

West Virginia has the third oldest population in the nation. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Marshall Health and Charleston Area Medical Center.