Obesity leads to a deficiency of protein known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF, which is associated with the risk of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.
High-intensity interval (HIIT) exercise is a fast-paced workout that can burn a lot of calories in less time. It is also popularly known as the most effective way to exercise.
However, in a new study, the researchers from Florida Atlantic University discovered that short bursts of exercise can also prevent cognitive dysfunction in obese people.
So far, previous studies only focused on continuous periods of moderate exercise without any rest intervals in between. However, this is the first time that FAU researchers, along with partners from Purdue University and the University of Texas, have examined the role of obesity with exercise-induced BDNF.
BDNF Response: Obese Vs. Normal-Weight Participants
The researchers at Florida Atlantic University conducted a study on male participants who were made to do a HIIT workout. It included five minutes of jogging/running routine, followed by four high-intensity intervals, and three minutes of recovery. Blood samples from before and after the workout, and once more an hour after completion of the workout, were collected to test the BDNF levels.
The study revealed that BDNF expression in obese participants is stronger compared to normal-weight participants. The findings published in Experimental Biology and Medicine suggest that HIIT may be a productive way to regulate BDNF in obese people and help them alleviate the risk of cognitive dysfunction.
Exercise For Your Body And Your Brain
"High-intensity interval exercise is a time-efficient strategy with similar or superior physiological benefits that promotes the expression of a growth factor typically associated with brain health, yet that appears to be down regulated in obesity," said Chun-Jung (Phil) Huang, Ph.D., lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Exercise Biochemistry Laboratory, Department of Exercise Science and Health Promotion, at FAU's College of Education.
"The relative simplicity and efficacy of high-intensity interval exercise supports its use as a preventive measure and as an intervention to combat obesity and other chronic disease conditions."
The researchers explained that the aerobic training not only provides anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits but prevents age-related cognitive decline.