A new study has found that adding just six minutes of intense daily exercise can increase brain power in middle age.
The researchers said that both moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) are vital in preventing deterioration in brain function.
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and increases oxygen levels, which is thought to improve memory and mental processes such as planning and organization.
The findings suggest that replacing as little as six to seven minutes of mild activity or inactivity each day can lead to cognitive deterioration.
Researchers at University College London (UCL) looked at more than 8,500 Britons born in 1970 who were tracked through childhood and adulthood.
Each participant completed detailed health, past and lifestyle questionnaires and wore activity trackers for at least ten consecutive hours per day for seven days.
During this time, they completed several verbal memory cognitive tests, including immediate and delayed tasks in which they had to memorize certain words.
They were also tested for their executive function, meaning their ability to plan, focus, multitask, and remember instructions.
The scores for each test were summed to give an overall overall score for memory and executive function.
The activity tracker showed that participants logged an average of 51 minutes of MVPA each day.
It also showed that they engaged in light physical activity for five hours and 42 minutes, a sedentary lifestyle for nine hours and 16 minutes, and slept for 8 hours and 11 minutes over a 24-hour period. Those who performed well on cognitive tasks spent more time doing MVPA and less time sleeping and engaging in sedentary activities.
To better understand this connection, the researchers redistributed time from one component to another minute by minute to assess the impact this might have on global cognitive performance.
When MVPA was replaced with light activity, cognition improved by 1.27%, and when nine minutes of inactivity were replaced with vigorous activity, it improved by 1.31%.
According to results published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, replacing seven minutes of sleep with activity resulted in a 1.2% improvement.
On the other hand, replacing eight minutes of vigorous activity with inactive behavior reduced cognitive performance by one to two percent.
Similarly, replacing strenuous activity with six minutes of light physical activity or seven minutes of sleep caused the same 1-2% cognitive decline.
“MVPA tends to be the lowest per day in real terms and the hardest to get,” said Dr. John Mitchell, professor of primary care and community health at UCLA, who led the study. Absolutely no harm, even within this relatively active group.”
Source: Daily Mail