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Researchers from the University of Washington were assessed whether exercise related to memory performance and stress hormones (cortisol). They compared two groups of older adults with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). One group performed supervised aerobic exercise, and the other group did supervised stretching. Physical activities were performed four times a week for six months. Interestingly, the aerobic exercise group had improved cognitive functioning compared to the stretching group. Interestingly, these benefits were larger for women when compared to men. Women in the aerobic exercise group were also the only ones to show decreased cortisol levels over the course of the study. The authors conclude that regular aerobic exercise improves cognitive functioning in older adults with MCI. This study supports previous findings showing that regular exercise can decrease cortisol levels and helpful in even in old age.

Title: Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Controlled Trial

Authors: Laura D. Baker; Laura L. Frank; Karen Foster-Schubert; Pattie S. Green; Charles W. Wilkinson; Anne McTiernan; Stephen R. Plymate; Mark A. Fishel; G. Stennis Watson; Brenna A. Cholerton; Glen E. Duncan; Pankaj D. Mehta; Suzanne Craft.

Laboratory: Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System clinical research unit.

Journal: Archives of Neurology (2010), vol. 67 (1), pp.  71-79.