There is no substitute for physical exercise when it comes to boosting the functioning of body and mind, according to a study by Australian researchers.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Canberra analyzed 39 previous studies for establishing the effect of exercise on thinking skills in people above the age of 50 as a booster effect to the functions of the brain.
The analysis looked at the results of structured physical exercise lasting for four weeks in terms of its effects on the functioning of adult brains.
Memory, alertness, and information processing capability showed an increase from moderate exercises done for several days by middle aged people.
Exercise improves thinking power and memory with an extra impetus to the heart and muscles. This was most true for those with explicit cognitive decline.
The study also gave a specific recommendation of T'ai Chi for people of middle age as they have difficulty in managing hard exercises.
The paper has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Sustained Exercise Required For Many Days A Week
The previous studies analyzed by Australian researchers were published from 1989 to 2016 and discussed different types of exercise, sessions of moderately intense workouts that last for 45 to 60 minutes, offering a number of benefits for memory and cognitive function.
The reason for the boost for brain power is protective powers coming from exercise. It is a fact that brainpower declines with advancing age and exercise reduce cell damage and inflammation.
Exercise enhances the supply of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the brain. Evidence from brain scans also shows exercise can increase the density of brain cells and blood vessels in some parts of the brain.
However, the analysis does not see brain function being boosted by yoga exercises and suggests combining favorite exercise forms will sharpen the power of cognition.
Boost For Brain From Exercise
The metric of healthy exercise, according to the guidelines of NHS is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity in a week. This must be backed by exercises for major muscles at least two days in a week.
Physical exercises also cut down the risk of other diseases, including type-2 diabetes and cancers.
The study gave clear evidence of aerobic exercise improving cognitive abilities in terms of better thinking, learning, reading, and reasoning.
Muscle training in terms of lifting weights also had a significant effect on memory and revved up brain's ability to organize and execute functions.
"Even if you are doing moderate exercise only once or twice a week, there are still improvements in cognitive function, but the improvements were better the more exercise was done," said Joe Northey from the Research Institute of Sport and Exercise at Canberra.
He said the findings were useful for improving brain health in people above the 50s and urged people to hold conversations while doing moderate exercise.
For the best results, there must be moderate to vigorous exercises per session for an average 45 to 60 minutes "on as many days of the week as feasible."
Exercise Helping Obese People
Yet another study, published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology found exercise was beneficial for obese people in guarding against heart damage.
More than 9,000 people were studied. Those who were obese and had no exercise possessed high levels of a heart damage markers compared to obese people who were active.
Dr. Roberta Florido, a co-author said staying active will cope the heart in dealing with certain stressors.