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FAIRWAY, Kan.  —  Do you want to improve your brain power as you age?  New research done in the metro finds you should get your feet moving.

Dennis Burns wanted to get back into an exercise habit, so he agreed to be part of a study of exercise and thinking at K.U.’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center.  The lead researcher was Dr. Jeffrey Burns.

“And he is my son,” said Dennis Burns.

Dr. Burns added, “He was an easy phone call to get him in.”

Dr. Burns hoped to define the optimal dose of exercise for brain health.  He looked at 100 people aged 65 and older.  One group didn’t exercise while other groups did 75, 150 or 225 minutes a week on a treadmill or elliptical machine.  

Participants were given tests of their thinking skills before the study started and six months later.   The study found that even at 75 minutes of exercise a week, the brain benefits.  Attention was better.  So was what’s called visual spatial function.

“Navigating and sort of working with visual information and spatial information,” explained Dr. Burns.

The findings also suggested that those who exercised more than 75 minutes got more brain benefit.

 “Is more better?  Yea, it probably is, but the biggest bang for your efforts is going from being sedentary to being more active,” the researcher said.

Dennis Burns said, “I think you stay sharper.”

He was in the group that exercised 225 minutes a week.  Although he hasn’t kept up that pace since the study ended, he’s still exercising.

“Just to get up and get going and do something all the time,” he said.

It helps your body including your brain.   

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.  Not surprisingly, the study found that physical endurance improved the most in the group that exercised 225 minutes a week.