Can a little bit of exercise make you smarter?
Or, stated more precisely, can regular activity help slow the cognitive declines associated with aging?
A small but intriguing study suggests that the answer to those two questions is Yes. Adults could, over a period of just a few months, significantly improve standard measures of cognition including the the ability to think clearly, recall and make quick decisions. Oh, and they also lost weight, shrunk their waist size, became more flexible and dramatically improved their endurance.
The key exercise was the interval training, which consisted of pedalling to maximum ability for 45 seconds, followed by 45 seconds rest, this for a total of 20 minutes. (The Montreal Heart Institute uses this method to help rehabilitate heart patients.)
“In the end, cognitive decline is largely a blood vessel problem. The brain is loaded with blood vessels and if you make those healthier with exercise, you reduce the risk of decline,” he said. “It’s very similar to the heart.”