The Washington Post has a piece on how new research is showing that not only can aerobics can slow mental decline in older adults, but can actually reverse it:
Prof. Art Kramer, of the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois, says there's substantial evidence showing the benefits of aerobic exercise and physical activity on such executive-control brain functions as task coordination, planning, goal maintenance, working memory and the ability to switch tasks. As people age, a deterioration of white and gray matter in certain areas of the brain can cause cognitive decline, Kramer explained. He reviewed published research and found that several studies showed that regular moderate exercise that makes a person breathless increases the speed and sharpness of thought, the actual volume of brain tissue, and the way in which the brain functions.
Exercise also allows the brain to retain plasticity - the ability to grow and develop. Who knew our brains could be described as plastic? And then there's gray matter (which involves our ability to think), where physical activity has shown to decrease the deterioration of gray matter as well. Am I a nerd for loving all this brain talk?