Aerobic Exercise Can Improve Executive Functioning Of Young People, New Study Shows

Exercise comes with several health benefits. It can lower the risk of heart disease, bone problems, and support brain functionality too. Since exercise boosts blood flow throughout the body and delivers oxygens to all parts, it improves the functionality of all the organs including the brain.

So far, studies have also said that exercise can improve the executive functioning of older adults. However, a new research shows that it can up the executive functioning, such as problem-solving skills, of young adults as well.

What Did This Study Reveal?

A new study which has been published in the Neurology journal shows that exercise doesn’t only hold cognitive benefits for older adults but for young and middle-aged people as well. This research was carried out at the Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

As part of the research, 132 individuals who engaged in less than average aerobic activity and were in the age bracket of 20 to 67 were taken in as participants. These participants were divided into two groups. The first group performed aerobic exercises.

The second one did core-strengthening and stretching exercises. The processing speed, language, attention span, episodic memory, and executive functioning of these participants were tested before the study, when the study was at 12 weeks and when it was at 24 weeks.

The effects of exercise on their health were seen and it was found that those of them who were more physically active had better executive functioning. The problem-solving, reasoning, and planning abilities of those involved in exercising were better.

However, these effects were stronger among older adults. More studies are needed to conclude how much exercise is needed to boost cognitive functionality when we want to.

How Does Exercise Impact Brain Health?

Working out has both short-term and long-term benefits. Exercise can improve your memory. It can also reduce stress and anxiety. Moreover, it has also been shown to decrease the symptoms of depression. Physical activity boosts endorphins which make one feel happier. It also releases endocannabinoids which can improve mood and decrease tension.

It can increase the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF, higher markers of which are associated to lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Exercise is also linked to higher cognitive functioning. This is why it is essential to exercise regularly.


It is no secret that exercise holds a lot of benefits for one’s mental health. It can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also improve one’s memory and may prevent neurodegenerative diseases. Now a new study shows how exercise can improve executive functioning in not only older adults but those who are middle-aged or young as well.

Previously, studies only saw improvement in the cognitive functioning of older adults. However, even in this research, the benefits were higher for those who were older.