If you want to be able to think fast on stay on your toes mentally, one of the keys may be physically spending time on your feet.
A new review of existing research into connections between regular exercise and thinking and memory skills finds starting and maintaining a new workout regimen could provide both brain and body power.
The review, published online Wednesday in the journal Neurology Clinical Practice, found that exercising at least 52 hours over a six month period corresponded to improvement in thinking skills.
“We were excited to see that even people who participated in lower intensity exercise programs showed a benefit to their thinking skills,” said study author Joyce Gomes-Osman, of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Not everyone has the endurance or motivation to start a moderately intense exercise program, but everyone can benefit even from a less intense plan.”
You might ask why the hourly amount of exercise wasn’t broken down into a weekly amount, but the researchers did not find a relationship between a particular amount of exercise per week and an improvement in thinking.
“These results suggest that a longer-term exercise program may be necessary to gain the benefits in thinking skills,” explained Gomes-Osman.
A variety of different types of exercise, including aerobic exercise, strength training, mind-body exercise (such as yoga or tai chi) and combinations were found to improve brain processing speed and executive function, which is a person’s ability to manage time, pay attention and achieve goals.
Time exercised did not seem to impact memory skills, however.
“Only the total length of time exercising could be linked to improved thinking skills,” said Gomes-Osman. “But our results may also provide further insight. With a majority of participants being sedentary when they first enrolled in a study, our research suggests that using exercise to combat sedentary behavior may be a reason why thinking skills improved.”
The average age of the 11,061 participants across 98 trials reviewed was 73, with 59 percent categorized as healthy adults, 26 percent having mild cognitive impairment and 15 percent with dementia.
Future studies could further investigate the link between exercise and thinking ability, but for now it seems that adding even a minimal amount of exertion to your daily routine could make you sharper, so long as you keep it up for the long term.
By Eric Mack|INC