Exercising regularly has tons of benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Now, scientists believe it can also keep your brain healthy, according to a new report.
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Researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine recently conducted a study, published in the Neurology journal, to determine how much you should work out in order to maintain a healthy brain.
To do so, they examined nearly 100 existing studies that found an association between exercise and brain function. The data included information on more than 11,000 older people around age 73. The researchers looked at the individuals’ exercise session length, intensity, weekly frequency and amount of exercise over time.
After analyzing the results, they found that 59 percent were categorized as healthy adults, 26 percent had mild cognitive impairment and 15 percent had dementia. About 58 percent of the subjects did not regularly exercise before participating in the study.
Upon further investigation, researches found that those who exercised about 52 hours over a six-month period saw huge improvements in performance on various thinking and speed tests. This was the case for people without cognitive decline and those with only mild cognitive impairment or dementia.
The review did not find a relationship between a weekly amount of exercise and improved thinking skills.
"These results suggest that a longer-term exercise program may be necessary to gain the benefits in thinking skills," co-author Joyce Gomes-Osman said in a statement. "We were excited to see that even people who participated in lower-intensity exercise programs showed a benefit to their thinking skills. Not everyone has the endurance or motivation to start a moderately intense exercise program, but everyone can benefit even from a less-intense plan."
The researchers believe their “results may also provide further insight” for future investigations. They hope to find out which thinking abilities experience the greatest improvement with exercise. They’d also like to explore the short-term and long-term effects of exercise for both sedentary and physically fit people.