A New Reason to Get Exercise as You Age

September 1 2010

If there's too much "cross-talk" between the right and left sides of your brain, your motor skills are likely to decrease. Seems counterintuitive, but here's how it works.

You probably know that if you move your right hand, it's usually only your brain's left hemisphere that's active. So far so good. Researchers have found that as we age, BOTH sides of the brain become active. You'd think that's a good thing, right? Logic might lead us to the conclusion that the more areas of the brain that get involved, the better your motor skills would be.

Well...no. It turns out that as you tap into more areas of your "gray matter" the poorer your performance. What's going on here? My lay person's interpretation of the science (I'm NOT a neurologist!!) is that when activity in the non-dominant half of your brain is NOT surpressed, as it normally is when you attempt a motor task, your brain gets confused and sends out conflicting signals -- resulting in decreased motor skill.

The good news? Aerobic exercise seems to improve the good connections between the 2 halves of the brain so that only one hemisphere is active, the way it should be. This eliminates the messy "cross-talk" that causes confusion. Confused? Maybe it'll help if you read the article.

Category: Need to know
Filed under: Aging; Exercise; Mental Health