Do aerobic exercises improve the brain?
Aerobic exercise can help improve brain health. If carried out regularly, the results of thinking and memory tests improved in a current study.
In the current study by the research group around Dr. Marc J. Poulin of the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, found that older people, even if they were physically very little active, did better aerobic exercise after just six months in certain mind and memory tests. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Neurology".
Benefits of an aerobic exercise program for the brain are immense
With age, people break down mentally and physically. Regular exercise can counteract this breakdown. But even if people are actually very inactive and only start an aerobic sports program late, the benefits for your brain can be immense, the researchers report.
Aerboic provides our brain with better blood
The current study has shown that aerobics contribute to the supply of blood to the brain, particularly in areas that are responsible for language expression and executive functions. Therefore, the results of the study could be particularly important for older adults who are at risk for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia and brain disorders.
206 participants were examined
The study included 206 adults who did not exercise more than four days a week with moderate intensity for 30 minutes or less prior to starting the six-month exercise intervention. Participants were also admitted who did not exercise more than two days per week with high intensity for 20 minutes or less per day.
What was the procedure like?
The participants had an average age of 66 years and had no history of heart or memory problems. At the beginning of the study, they were given mental and memory tests and an ultrasound measurement of blood flow in the brain. Physical tests were performed after three months and the mental and memory tests were repeated at the end of the six months.
The intensity of the aerobics program increased
Participants were assigned to a supervised aerobics program that took place three days a week. As the program progressed, they increased their training from an average of 20 minutes a day to an average of at least 40 minutes a day. In addition, the participants were asked to train independently once a week.
Positive effects of the training
The researchers found that after six months of training, executive function tests, which included mental flexibility and self-correction, improved by 5.7 percent. Speaking skills, which test how quickly information can be accessed, rose by 2.4 percent during this period.
Positive changes after six months
Before and after six months of training, the average peak blood flow of participants to the brain was measured with the help of ultrasound. Blood flow rose from an average of 51.3 centimeters per second (cm / sec) to an average of 52.7 cm / sec, which corresponds to an increase of 2.8 percent. The increase in blood flow during exercise was associated with a number of modest but significant improvements in aspects of thinking that usually decrease with age, the researchers report.
Were there any restrictions in the study?
One limitation of the study was that the people who did the exercises were not compared to a similar group of non-exercising people. So the results could possibly be due to other factors. In addition, part of the aerobic exercise performed was unsupervised, so the amount reported may be unreliable. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Veronica Guadagni, Lauren L. Drogos, Amanda V. Tyndall, Margie H. Davenport, Todd J. Anderson et al .: Aerobic exercise improves cognition and cerebrovascular regulation in older adults, in Neurology (published May 13, 2020), Neurology