Washington D.C. [USA]: Moderate-intensity exercise in the morning improves cognitive performance like decision-making across the day in older adults as compared to prolonged sitting without exercise, suggests a study.
The study published in the ‘British Journal of Sports Medicine’ showed that a morning bout of exercise combined with brief light-intensity walking breaks to frequently disrupt sitting throughout an 8-hour day can boost your short-term memory compared to uninterrupted sitting.
The study also showed that the distinct responses in cognitive performance to exercise versus exercise and sitting breaks point to different patterns of physical activity being able to enhance distinct aspects of cognition.
The study of more than 65 males and females aged 55-80 years examined the effects of acute morning exercise on a treadmill with and without brief three minute walking breaks during an 8-hour day of prolonged sitting, and assessed aspects of cognition and concentration including psychomotor function; attention; executive function such as decision-making; visual learning and working memory.
Central to mediating the benefits of exercise on learning and memory is a brain-derived neurotropic growth factor, a protein which plays an important role in the survival and growth of information-transmitting neurons in the brain. The results demonstrated that this protein was elevated for 8 hours during both exercise conditions, relative to prolonged sitting.
Physical activity researcher, Michael Wheeler said the study highlights that uninterrupted sitting should be avoided to maintain optimal cognition across the day, and that moderate-intensity exercise such as a brisk walk should be encouraged for the daily maintenance of brain health.
He said the study also reveals that not all aspects of cognition respond in the same way to a given dose of exercise and that it may be possible to manipulate the pattern of activity across the day to optimise specific cognitive outcomes.
“With an ageing population that is looking to live healthier for longer, these studies are critical to people enjoying a productive and satisfying quality of life,” Michael said.