Young or old, intense exercise may help keep your brain in good working order.
Researchers assigned 27 sedentary people to high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or a sedentary control group. Roughly half were age 18 to 30 and half were age 65 to 80.
For three days a week, the HIIT group rode a stationary bike for four four-minute intervals at high intensity (90 percent of their peak aerobic capacity), separated by three-minute rest periods. On two other days each week, they walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes (at 70 percent of their peak).
After 12 weeks, glucose uptake in the brain increased more in the HIIT group. (Glucose is the brain’s primary fuel.) The increase occurred in brain regions where uptake declines in people with Alzheimer’s disease. (Of course, it’s not clear that a boost in uptake would prevent Alzheimer’s.)
What to do: Get moving. Although this study tested HIIT, any exercise may help. And try bumping up your effort for a minute or two as you walk, bike, or whatever. This should make your muscles, if not your mind, more fit.
Source: Nutrition Action Health Letter March 2018 J. Clin. Endocrinol, Metab. 103: 221, 2018
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