We’ve all heard that exercise is good for our brain as well as our body.
Research has consistently shown that people who work out regularly stay mentally sharper as they get older.
But what kind of exercise is best?
A new study set out to answer that question.
Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Miami gave 876 seniors brain scans and tests that gauged thinking and memory skills. The scans and tests were then repeated five years later.
The researchers checked those results against the subjects’ physical activity. Seniors who did “intense” activities such as sprinting had far less mental decline than those who did slower activities such as yoga and walking.
The difference between the two groups amounted to 10 years of brain aging.
Shorter, more intense workouts were clearly more beneficial to mental sharpness and memory than longer, slower exercise sessions, the study found.
That’s not to say that yoga and walking aren’t good for you. Walking is heart-healthy. And yoga is good for strength and flexibility. It also reduces the risk of falling in seniors. But more intense exercise seems to do more for the brain.
The study backs up previous research which has found exercise promotes neurogenesis (the growth of new brain cells).
High-Intensity Interval Training Keeps You Mentally Sharp
Your best bet for brain health is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). And it has another advantage… It requires a fraction of the time of traditional steady-state cardio.
HIIT is adaptable to many activities. You can run, cycle, swim, do calisthenics, or use a rowing, stair climber, or elliptical machine.
Warm up for three to five minutes doing your chosen form of exercise slowly.
Then do the exercise at the highest intensity you can for the next minute.
Slow down for a minute or two to catch your breath. Then go hard again for another minute.
Repeat this process five to seven times. Afterward, do the activity slowly for at least two minutes to cool down.
The idea is to push your body for a brief burst, and then allow it to recover. HIIT allows you stay in great shape even when you don’t have time for a long workout.
Editor’s Note: In the April issue of Independent Healing, you’ll discover the truth about memory loss…and why your worst “senior moments” may have nothing to do with your age or Alzheimer’s. If you show any of these six signs, there could be a secret factor quietly draining your brain. Find out more HERE.