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Exercise Makes Middle-Aged People Smarter

High-intensity interval training makes middle-aged people not only healthier but smarter, shows a Montreal Heart Institute study.

The participants in the study, who all had a body-mass index (BMI) between 28 and 31 (overweight) in addition to one or more other cardiovascular risk factors, followed a four-month program of twice-weekly interval training on stationary bicycles and twice-weekly resistance training.

Before the program began the participants all underwent a battery of cognitive, biological and physiological tests in order to determine their cognitive functions, body composition, cardiovascular risk, brain oxygenation during exercise and maximal aerobic capacity. The cognitive tests included tasks such as remembering pairs of numbers and symbols.

After the program was finished, the researchers discovered that the participants’ waist circumference and trunk fat mass had decreased. Testing of their cognitive function, VO2max* and brain oxygenation during exercise testing revealed that the participants’ cognitive functions had greatly improved following the exercise program.

*VO2max is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It impacts on the body’s ability to oxygenate the brain and is related to cognitive function.

Universite de Montreal. “Exercise makes middle-aged people smarter.” ScienceDaily, 29 Oct. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.

Categories: Sport & Exercise, Healthy Aging