The history of movement has faced a crisis relationship between two elemental human phenomena:
1. On one hand there is the principle of economy—the human aspiration to reduce physical and mental efforts to a minimum,
2. and on the other hand there is the adaptation principle—the natural dependence of human beings on movement.
The principle of economy has led to the development of cutting-edge technology, which has “gone too far” in reducing physical and mental efforts ignoring the dependence of human beings in physical and mental activities.
While in the past there was no need for purposeful exercise, as survival forced human beings to be in motion, the overwhelming reduction in daily energy expenditure in the Twentieth-century, along with the increase in chronic diseases caused by this movement reduction, has generated the promotion of purposeful exercise as a requirement for survival and health. Specifically, purposeful exercise is comprised of assorted sets of movements aimed at enhancing various body systems.
The review examined whether one mode of purposeful exercise is more efficient than another in enhancing cognition in advanced age.
The exercise modes were divided into two categories based on the inherent type of energy required to produce the activity: physical vs. motor activities.
Both training categories affect neuroplasticity and consequently cognitive functioning. However, there are two main differences:
(1) Physical training affects cognition via improvement in cardiovascular fitness, whereas motor training affects cognition directly;
(2) Physical training affects neuroplasticity and cognition in a global manner, while motor training is task-specific in increasing brain neuroplasticity and in affecting cognition.
In addition, examining the underlying forces behind the two training categories in altering neuroplasticity and cognition reveals that in physical training it is the intensity of training that enhances neuroplasticity and consequently improves cognition, whereas in motor training it is the motor complexity that affects the relationship between exercise and cognition. While intensity is measurable, complexity is hardly measurable, and thus the dose-response effect of motor activities on cognition is difficult to determine.
One way to control and quantify complexity is to perform dual-task activities. Dual-task activities include a controlled combination of two tasks or activities, performed simultaneously, and are arbitrarily designed as a means to promote basic motor systems such as postural control or cognitive functioning. Dual task training that includes cognitive demands in addition to physical or motor activity has proven more effective in preserving or improving cognitive functioning than a single task.
Fortunately, physical as well as motor training—are efficient in enhancing cognition.
We merely have to emphasize the inclusion of all exercise modes in our routine exercise regimen for physical as well as cognitive health.
It is also recommended that more cognitive stimulations, such as dual-task activities involving both a movement-base as well as cognitive tasks, be implemented in the exercise routine.
Interestingly, the same technology that reduced physical and mental efforts to a minimum (i.e., automobiles, house appliances, GPSs, etc.) is now being used to stimulate physical and mental energy expenditure (i.e., exergames).
If all modes of exercise are related to cognition via various physical, biochemical, or neurological mediating mechanisms, as well as various driving forces, is it not an indication of the wholeness of the human being, and of the need to investigate human movement as it relates to all aspects of life?
As a personal comment on this interesting review, I would like to point out the great human movement, which made us human: