Exercise and the aging brain

“A sound mind in a healthy body ”is what we all hope for as we age. University of Calgary researcher Marc Poulin, PhD, DPhil, believes the key to achieving this is simple: exercise. Poulin, an Alberta Innovates Health Solutions funded researcher with the Faculties of Kinesiology and Medicine, has shown that regular cardio vascular exercise is vital to keeping our mind intact and to avoid the scourge of diseases like dementia.

“By the middle of this century, the number of people aged 60 years and older worldwide will be over two billion,” says Poulin, “dementia and related issues poses a significant risk to our healthcare system, so understanding the relationship between exercise and brain health is a critical.”

Poulin’s latest research project – one of the most ambitious studies of aging, exercise and brain health ever undertaken – is seeking to understand how exercise becomes a magic bullet in the fight to stay sharp. In January of 2010 his lab recruited 250 previously inactive Calgarians who committed to exercise regularly for a period of 6 months.

This Tuesday, June 12, 125 of the participants will gather for a unique “appreciation” event that marks the halfway point of the study. Poulin’s lab will share some of the results they’ve recorded and participants will discuss how regular exercise has changed their lives.

The evidence surrounding the importance of exercise for retaining cognitive ability is strong, and continues to grow. In 2009 Poulin’s lab showed that cognitive ability in a group of older women had a direct relationship to their aerobic fitness level. Poulin’s lab recently published a paper in a journal of the American College of Sport Medicine (June 2012) surveying recent research studies on the many positive effects of exercise on the cognitive abilities of older adults, including a reduced risk of dementia.

The paper concludes: “Exercise could well turn out to be the most convenient, practical, and costeffective way to ameliorate age-related declines in cognition while mitigating other agerelated diseases. These benefits have the potential to improve health with advancing age and to reduce significantly the anticipated and rapidly escalating costs associated with agerelated cognitive impairment and dementia facing our aging society.”

Media Availability:

Who: Brain In Motion lead researcher Marc Poulin, PhD; 125 participants who have been exercising regularly for the past year.

What: A celebration to acknowledge the dedication being shown by 125 “Brain In Motion” research subjects at the halfway point of the study. Presentations by members of the Brain in Motion research team.

When: June 12, 2012 – 6:00 – 8:00pm

Where: Health Research Innovation Centre Atrium Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary
** There is free underground parking provided for the event in the TRW underground parking lot: LOT 14. Please see attached map for the location***

Media Contact / More Information

Don Mcswiney,
Director Of Communications
Faculty of Kinesiology
(403) 220-7652, C: (403) 852-7652