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A new study shows that engaging in even a few minutes of daily exercise improves memory and cognitive function. Middle-aged adults who engaged in just nine minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily performed better on tests of memory, planning, and organization than those who engaged in sedentary or light activities.
Researchers tracked the activity patterns of nearly 4,500 adults over a period of a week. The participants took cognitive tests that assessed their verbal memory and executive function – the ability to plan, monitor, and execute one’s goals.
People who engaged in moderate to vigorous activity scored higher on the cognitive tests than those who were sedentary or engaged in only light activity. Surprisingly, just nine minutes of moderate to vigorous activity markedly improved cognitive performance versus sedentary activity.
Physical activity is a broad term that includes exercise, work-related exertion, and even some hobbies. Moderate-intensity physical activities, which include activities like brisk walking, doubles tennis, or raking leaves, increase a person’s heart rate to about 50 to 60 percent of their maximum. Vigorous-intensity physical activities, which include activities like running, swimming, or cycling, increase the heart rate to 70 to 80 percent of one’s maximum.
Robust evidence demonstrates that vigorous activity maintains the blood-brain barrier, a critical component of brain health and cognitive function. Learn more in this episode featuring Dr. Axel Montagne.
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