A meta-analytic study was conducted to examine the hypothesis that aerobic fitness training enhances the cognitive vitality of healthy but sedentary older adults. Eighteen intervention studies published between 1966 and 2001 were entered into the analysis. Several theoretically and practically important results were obtained. Most important, fitness training was found to have robust but selective benefits for cognition, with the largest fitness-induced benefits occurring for executive-control processes. The magnitude of fitness effects on cognition was also moderated by a number of programmatic and methodological factors, including the length of the fitness-training intervention, the type of the intervention, the duration of training sessions, and the gender of the study participants. The results are discussed in terms of recent neuroscientific and psychological data that indicate cognitive and neural plasticity is maintained throughout the life span.
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