You want to naturally improve your mood, increase your memory, and protect your brain against aging?
A wealth of new studies show that any exercisethat increases your heart rate, keeps you moving and sweats, has a clear and overwhelming beneficial effect on your brain. Maybe you already know it under the name “aerobic training”.
“Aerobic training is the key to your head, just as it is the key to your heart,” says a Harvard Medical School blog entry .
While some of the advantages – for example a better mood – can be felt on the bike after only a few minutes , other phenomena, such as a better memory, require several weeks of time.
Aerobic training improves your cognitive abilities
As part of a recent study on the benefits of aerobic exercise for the brain, researchers have investigated hundreds of breast cancer survivors . They wanted to see whether activities such as walking and swimming have an effect on the “chemo brain,” a frequently observed side effect of breast cancer treatment, which reduces memory and capacity to concentrate.
As it was already scientifically proven that sport helps against the age-related cognitive decline, the researchers wanted to find out whether cancer survivors are the case.
About 300 breast cancer survivors received acceleration sensors. The researchers traced their movement for a week, and at the same time reached an iPad app called “BrainBaseline,” where the participants could play council games that test the attention span and the memory.
At the end of the week, the people who did aerobic exercise every day were not only significantly more alert than those who did not exercise at all, but they also significantly improved their performance.
“The message to cancer patients and survivors is the following:” Be active, ” advises Diane Ehlers , the lead scientist of the study.
Since the study was only carried out over a period of one week, more research is needed in the area of cancer patients. Nevertheless, the evidence that aerobic training has many positive effects on the brain is very large – and it continues to grow.
Regular exercise also helps with depression
A pilot study of people with severe depression showed that walking on the treadmill for only 30 minutes a day is sufficient to achieve a clinically and statistically relevant reduction in depression.
Aerobic training can also help people feel less stressed because it reduces the body’s natural stress hormones, according to a study from the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.
If you are over 50 years old, researchers advise you to combine aerobic training with resistance training . For example, you could combine high-intensity interval training (like the 7-minute workout ) with dynamic yoga.
Another study published in May underpins these findings. For example, adults aged between 60 and 88 will be allowed to walk four days for 30 minutes a week for a period of 12 weeks. This is intended to strengthen the brain region, which is responsible for the memory.
Aerobic training improves memory
In a recent study , older women were examined who were found to have potential symptoms of dementia. The researchers found that the hippocampus (the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning) grows through aerobic training.
Joe Northey , senior researcher and sports scientist at the University of Canberra, advises every healthy person to do more than 50 “as many days a week as possible” 45 minutes to an hour of aerobic training.
To date, researchers are still not quite sure why this type of sport is so good for the brain. The presumption suggests that it has to do with the increased blood flow, which supplies our head with new energy and oxygen.
So if you are looking for a way to stay fit in old age, aerobic training is definitely the right place.