Following on from a recent post on exercise and the aging brain, here is yet another study to show that improvements in cognitive function can be brought about by regular exercise and its consequent effects on body composition, metabolism, and other line items. Use it or lose it, as they say:
A regular exercise routine can make you fitter than ever - mentally fit. In a new study, previously sedentary adults were put through four months of high-intensity interval training. At the end, their cognitive functions - the ability to think, recall and make quick decisions - had improved significantly.
Blood flow to the brain increases during exercise. The more fit you are, the more that increases. The pilot [study] looked at adults, average age 49, who were overweight and inactive. [Researchers] measured their cognitive function with neuropsychological testing, as well as their body composition, blood flow to the brain, cardiac output and their maximum ability to tolerate exercise.
The subjects then began a twice-a-week routine with an exercise bike and circuit weight training. After four months - not surprising - their weight, body mass index, fat mass and waist circumference were all significantly lower. Meanwhile, their capacity to exercise (measured by VO2 max) was up 15 per cent.
Most exciting, [cognitive function] had also increased, based on follow-up testing. These improvements were proportional to the changes in exercise capacity and body weight. Essentially, the more people could exercise, and the more weight they lost, the sharper they became.