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From puzzles to languages, there are various activities proven to strengthen your memory and cut your risk of cognitive decline. While keeping your brain active is important in this process, the rest of your body also plays a role. New research suggests that short bouts of exercise are crucial as well.
Whether you dedicate a few minutes of your day to a home workout or hit the local gym, all types of exercise are undoubtedly good for your health.
A new study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, has made an even stronger case for making physical activity part of your routine.
The research suggested that just one daily workout could help “boost” your brain power in middle age.
The researchers explained that just six minutes of intense daily exercise should be enough to do the trick.
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They found that both moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) is vital in helping stave off deteriorating brain conditions.
This level of intensity can improve memory and mental processes, such as planning and organisation.
On the flip side, replacing intense daily exercise with light-intensity activity or no exercise at all was found to trigger poorer cognitive performance.
Dr John Mitchell, the author of the study, said: “MVPA is typically the smallest proportion of the day in real terms, and the most difficult intensity to acquire.
“Perhaps partly for this reason, loss of any MVPA time whatsoever appeared detrimental, even within this relatively active cohort.”
The research team looked at participants from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which included people born across England, Scotland, and Wales in 1970 whose health was tracked throughout childhood and into adulthood.
Each participant filled in detailed health, background and lifestyle questionnaires.
They also wore activity trackers for at least 10 consecutive hours per day for up to seven days.
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During this time, they took various cognitive tests for verbal memory, including immediate and delayed tasks where they would have to recall certain words.
The participant group was also tested on their executive function, which describes the ability to plan, focus, multitask and remember instructions.
The findings showed that those who performed well in cognitive tasks spent more time doing MVPA and less time sleeping and doing stationary activities.
Furthermore, the results showed that the less MVPA in someone’s daily routine, the worse their cognitive abilities.
While these results are very promising, every study needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.
This research was just observational so it can’t establish a cause for these results.
And despite a large sample size, people of colour were underrepresented in this study, limiting the findings.
Dr Mitchell added: “This robust method corroborates a critical role for MVPA in supporting cognition, and efforts should be made to bolster this component of daily movement.”
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