According to recent research, a healthy brain could make the difference between a long life and a life ended by memory loss.
But there’s now an easy way to improve your brain health, say researchers.
According to new research from the University of Kansas Medical Center, older adults who exercised for 225 minutes per week–around 30 minutes per day–were the most likely to have optimal brain function, reducing the risk of memory loss diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Better yet, getting more exercise improved their ability to focus and pay attention, two factors that often decrease as a person ages.
Basically, exercise is a win-win for seniors.
“For improved brain function, the results suggest that it’s not enough just to exercise more,” says Eric Vidoni, P.T., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a research associate professor of neurology at the University of Kansas Medical Center. “You have to do it in a way that bumps up your overall fitness level.”
Recruiting senior adults who did not have cognitive impairment, researchers wanted to find out if exercise had an impact on their risk–so they conducted a study.
Splitting them into three groups, they had them exercise at three different lengths: 75 minutes, 150 minutes, or 225 minutes per week. An additional group served as the control, whose exercise routine was not modified.
Researchers measured their cognition, cardiorespiratory fitness and other health markers before and after the study.
When the study ended 26 weeks later, they found that those who exercised for 225 minutes per week–around 32 minutes per week–were the most likely to have the best cognition and cardiorespiratory levels. It also improved their ability to pay attention, another indicator that their brain health had improved.
For researchers, it proves an important point: Exercise isn’t just a way to keep you slim.
“Our data demonstrate that even modest levels of exercise in older adults provide fitness benefits, with increasing physiologic benefits at higher doses,” write researchers in the online version of PLoS One. “The finding that cardiorespiratory adaptation predicts cognitive benefit may indicate that cardiorespiratory fitness (or aerobic capacity) is a useful therapeutic target for achieving cognitive benefits.”
Bottom line? For a sharper brain, get moving–aerobic exercise specifically could keep your brain healthy.
“Any aerobic exercise was good, and more is better,” says Jeffrey Burns M.D., lead researcher of the study.
What You Should Do
Want to protect your brain from brain loss? Then make daily aerobic exercise a habit; preferably by getting at least 30 minutes of it everyday. However, even lower levels of aerobic fitness can help. The worst thing you can do is to avoid exercise completely, however, say researchers.
Readers: How do you like to stay physically active?
Exercise Can Improve Brain Function in Older Adults (Press Release) – ScienceDaily.com
Dose-Response of Aerobic Exercise on Cognition: A Community-Based, Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial (Study) – PLoS.org