The Best Form of Exercise for Boosting Memory
Exercise intensity, not duration, appears to be the key to improving memory for those above 60. That was the illuminating conclusion of a pivotal study from the scientists of McMaster University.
For this study researchers had 64 sedentary seniors between the ages of 60 and 80 participate in one of three exercise regimens—stretching, high intensity interval training (HIIT), or moderate continuous exercise. The HIIT regimen included four intervals of brief periods of very vigorous aerobic activity on a treadmill followed by rest. The moderate continuous activity included aerobic activity, like brisk walking for 50 minutes. The stretching group just did stretching exercises. All three study groups participated in the exercise three times a week for 12 weeks. Specialized cognitive tests were performed before and after the study in all subjects. The tests utilized specifically analyzed executive function, the ability to plan and organize, as well as memory.
The results? Study subjects engaging in short, intense bursts of activity (HIIT) improved their memory up to 30 percent! In contrast, those in the stretching and moderate activity groups showed no improvement in memory. Additionally, the scientists noted that the improvement in memory directly correlated with improvements in fitness.
My take—there is a growing and very exciting body of science showing that HIIT
training has unique benefits for multiple areas including fitness, weight control, metabolic health, and cardiovascular protection. I suspect that all of these ultimately play a role in why it seems so helpful for cognitive function and memory. The best thing about HIIT exercise is that small doses are all it takes, so “no time to exercise” is no excuse here!
JOIN OUR UPCOMING E-COURSE, EAT RIGHT FOR LIFE, & BECOME YOUR OWN EXPERT ON HEALTHY EATING!