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Health: So Much Exercise Keeps The Brain Healthy

There is no doubt about one fact: exercise is good for the body – and the mind! Scientists have now found out exactly how much physical activity is necessary to keep the brain fit with a new study.

In old age, not only does physical performance slowly decline, but also mental performance. With a healthy diet and exercise, you can slow down the decline – this has been known for a long time.

However, how much exercise is needed to have a positive effect on brain function was not yet known. A research team from Miami has now devoted a study to solve this puzzle. 

Exercise Recipe For The Brain

In the study published in the journal Neurology, scientists from the Miller School of Medicine in Miami set out to find a recipe for exercising the brain. She and her colleagues scanned nearly 100 existing studies that linked workouts to more than 122 different brain function tests. 

Based on data from over 11,000 older adults, they found that people who exercised a total of about 52 hours over around six months showed the greatest improvements on various thinking and speed tests. 

The effect was found both in people without cognitive decline and in those with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, reports “Time Magazine.” On average, people exercise for about an hour three times a week. 

These results move study director Joyce Gomes-Osman to a worldwide appeal for more physical activity: “Movement is a great thing for the brain. We have to be more active because right now, we have nothing better to fight cognitive decline. “

52 Hours As A General Value?

“I don’t think 52 hours are the one magical limit,” emphasizes Gomes-Osman. “There are different. But I think these results signal that we need to be active for extended periods to benefit from the already known benefits of exercise on the brain. Behind these are mechanical processes in the brain that have to develop first. ” 

The people in the study showed the greatest improvement in their ability to solve problems and process information. In memory tests, however, the effect was not particularly noticeable.

However, Gomes-Osman notes that most complex brain functions, from reasoning to processing speed to retrieval, are related: “There is an overlap between the ability to manage time, pay attention and do memory tasks,” says she.

In future studies, she hopes to identify the brain functions that are most sensitive to the effects of Movement.

Positive Long-Term Effect – No Matter How Hard The Training Was

When evaluating their results, the researchers were surprised by one thing: the only strong correlation between training and brain function occurred when looking at the total time people were physically active.

This had no additional effect on brain performance in terms of frequency, intensity, or length of training sessions.

“I assumed that the number of hours of exercise per week would have an impact, as public bodies like the Center for Disease Control and the American Heart Association are providing precise timing guidelines for physical health,” says Gomes-Osman. “But I was surprised to see that a higher number of hours didn’t change anything here.”


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