Exercising can make your brain work better right now and in the future – there’s growing evidence to suggest that regular workouts can help stave off the cognitive decline of old age. A study published earlier this year in the journal Neurology suggested that women who were very physically fit in middle age were around 88 per cent less likely to develop dementia than their moderately fit peers.
40 MINUTES OF STRENGTH TRAINING AND CARDIO, THREE TIMES A WEEK Photo Gallery
This is backed up by a new review of 98 studies, which looked at more than 11,000 older adults and found that those who exercised regularly showed significant cognitive advantages over participants who did less exercise or none at all. In fact, the review found the most effective amount of exercise was roughly 52 hours spread over six months or, for example, 40 minutes of exercise three times a week – this was the quantity that significantly affected people’s attention span and the time it took them to complete a mental task.
‘Those two constructs are among the first that start to go with the ageing process,’ explains physical therapist and neuroscientist Joyce Gomes-Osman, author of the review. ‘This is evidence that you can actually turn back the clock of ageing in your brain by adopting a regular exercise regime.’ The 40 minutes of exercise three times a week can include cardio, resistance (strength) training, mind-body exercises, or combinations of these three. Great news if you like to mix up your workouts and combine high-intensity sessions with lower-intensity classes.