A new study finds that adding just six minutes of intense daily exercise can boost brain power in middle age.
The researchers said that both moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is vital to help avoid deterioration of brain function.
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and boosts oxygen levels, which is thought to improve memory and mental processes such as planning and organization.
The findings suggest that replacing it with just six to seven minutes of light intensity activity or inactivity each day can lead to impaired cognitive performance.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) studied data on more than 8,500 Britons born in 1970, whose health was tracked throughout childhood and into adulthood.
Each participant filled out detailed questionnaires about health, background and lifestyle and wore activity trackers for at least ten consecutive hours per day for up to seven days.
During this time, they took several cognitive tests of verbal memory, including immediate and delayed tasks where they had to remember certain words.
They were also tested on their executive function, which is their ability to plan, focus, multitask and remember instructions.
Scores for each test were added together to produce an overall global score for memory and executive function.-
The activity tracker showed that the participants logged an average of 51 minutes of MVPA each day.--
It also showed that they engaged in five hours and 42 minutes of light physical activity, nine hours and 16 minutes of sedentary behavior and 8 hours and 11 minutes of sleep over a 24-hour period. Those who performed well on cognitive tasks spent more time doing MVPA and less time sleeping and doing sedentary activities.
To better understand this link, the researchers reallocated the time from one component to another, minute by minute, to estimate the effect this might have on global cognitive performance scores.
By substituting gentle activities for the MVPA, there was a 1.27% improvement in cognitive function and a 1.31% improvement when nine minutes of inactivity was replaced with vigorous activity.
Replacing seven minutes of sleep with vigorous activity resulted in a 1.2% improvement, according to the findings published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
On the other hand, replacing eight minutes of vigorous activity with inactive behavior lowered cognition ratings by between one and two percent.
Similarly, replacing vigorous activity with six minutes of light physical activity or seven minutes of sleep caused a similar 1-2% drop in cognition.
“MVPA is typically the smallest per day in real terms, and the hardest intensity to obtain,” said Dr. John Mitchell, professor of primary care and population health at UCLA, who led the study. Absolutely no harm, even within this relatively active group.”
Source: Daily Mail