A new study of older Australians has shown how simple, easily doable changes to a person’s daily routine is key to good health of the brain, particularly cognitive performance. The study referred to as the Brains Breaks’ study, shows that not all aspects of cognition will respond in the identical manner to a given dose of exercise. It is possible to manipulate patterns of activity throughout a day to optimize specific cognitive outcomes.
The study revealed that working out in the morning with moderate intensity exercise can improve cognitive performance as compared to periods of sitting without exercise. A morning workout along with brief periods of walking to disrupt sitting during an 8 hour day can boost short term memory compared to uninterrupted sitting.
The study included more than 65 females and males aged 55 to 80. The research team examined the effects of acute exercise in the morning on a treadmill with and then without brief 3 minute breaks of walking during an 8 hour day of prolonged sitting. They assessed aspects of concentration and cognition including attention, psychomotor, executive function such as decision making, working memory, and visual learning.
The results of the study demonstrated that a brain derived neurotropic growth factor protein was elevated for 8 hours during both of the exercise conditions relative to prolonged sitting. This protein is central to mediating benefits of exercise on memory and learning.
The study shows that uninterrupted sitting should be avoided in order to maintain optimal cognition throughout the day. It is also shows that moderate intensity exercise such as a brisk walk should also occur for daily maintenance of health of the brain.
These types of studies are critical to the aging population which is being looked at for routines and daily functions that could lead to living healthier, longer lives. Just simple changes to a person’s daily routine can have significant benefits to cognitive health. The study also shows that there may come a day when we are able to do very specific types of exercises to enhance specific cognitive skills such as learning and memory.
To view the original scientific study click below.
Distinct effects of acute exercise and breaks in sitting on working memory and executive function in older adults: a three-arm, randomised cross-over trial to evaluate the effects of exercise with and without breaks in sitting on cognition