6 Minutes of Exercise Improves Cognitive Performance
Exercise is widely recognized for its physical benefits, but its positive effects can also extend to the brain. A new study has found that replacing moderate to vigorous physical activity with 6 to 7 minutes of light intensity activity or sedentary behavior every day is associated with poorer cognitive performance.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, was based on data from the 1970 British Cohort Study, which tracked the health of a group of adults born in the U.K. in 1970. Researchers found that people who spent even small amounts of time in more vigorous activities—as little as 6 to 9 minutes—compared to sitting, sleeping or gentle activities had higher cognition scores.
Lead study author John Mitchell, a doctoral training student in the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health at University College London, said that the findings could “imply that even minimal changes to our daily lives can have downstream consequences for our cognition.”
The Department of Health and Human Services suggests that adults partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, along with two days of muscle-strengthening activities. High-intensity exercise was found to be the most effective way to increase BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) when compared with fasting for one day or 90 minutes of light exercise.
Previous studies have also found that exercise can improve memory and brain health, and that exercising with others offers greater benefits to older people. This is due to the social element, which can make regular exercise all the more preventive. Examples of exercises include running, swimming, cycling, and weightlifting.
So, next time you’re looking to increase your brain power, consider incorporating 6 minutes of high-intensity exercise into your daily routine. It may have a positive downstream effect on your cognition.
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