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Evidence keeps mounting that exercise is good for the brain. It can lower a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease and may even slow brain aging by about 10 years. Now, new research helps illuminate how, exactly, working out improves brain health.
In one research review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers examined 39 studies that looked at the link between exercise and cognitive abilities among people over age 50. They found that aerobic exercise appears to improve a person’s cognitive function and resistance training can enhance a person’s executive function and memory. Other exercises like tai chi were also linked to improvements in cognition, though there wasn't as much available evidence. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that 45 minutes to an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise was good for the brain.
" There is now a wide body of research showing that the benefits to the body with exercise also exist for the brain," says study author Joe Northey, a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise in Australia. " When older adults undertake aerobic or resistance exercise, we see changes to the structure and function of areas of the brain responsible for complex mental tasks and memory function."