As we age, cognitive problems can start to creep in… and no one wants to see that happen.
One of the areas that can become more challenging with age is decision making. Yet, the decisions we make in later life can substantially affect our finances, our health, and our independence.
Luckily, a new study, known as the ‘Brain Breaks’ study, led by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute and The University of Western Australia has now given us a quick way to ensure improve our cognitive performance, including our decision making, all day.
But not only that… it’s a habit that can keep your brain growing too…
The study followed 65 older Australians, between the ages of 55 and 80 to examine the power of exercise to positively change your cognitive function and short-term memory.
They separated the participants into three groups:
The team assessed all aspects of their cognition and concentration including psychomotor function, attention, executive function such as decision-making, visual learning, and working memory.
And, here’s what you need to know…
The benefits of morning exercise were clear. In fact, the researchers found that exercising in the morning can help you improve your cognitive performance and decision-making across the day.
And, it gets even better when you add in those brief walking breaks.
The Australian team found that combining a morning bout of exercise with brief light-intensity walking breaks to frequently disrupt sitting can boost your short-term memory too.
The researchers say that the reason exercise delivered such big benefits for cognitive function and memory comes down to its effects on neurotropic growth factor — a protein which plays an important role in the survival and growth of information-transmitting neurons in your brain.
The study showed that the protein was elevated for a full eight hours for both exercise groups.
And, according to the researchers, it once again demonstrates that one of the best things you can do for your brain health is to get up and move.
“This study highlights how relatively simple changes to your daily routine could have a significant benefit to your cognitive health. It also reveals that one day we may be able to do specific types of exercise to enhance specific cognitive skills such as memory or learning,” said physical activity researcher, Michael Wheeler.
So, if you want to keep your brain healthy, make the best decisions possible, and preserve your memory no matter what your age, the prescription you’re looking for is daily exercise.
You can take a walk, ride a stationary bike, work in your garden, or pop in an exercise DVD and dance. And, don’t forget to break up the hours you spend sitting with short, three-minute walking breaks to get all the benefits physical activity has to offer for your brain.
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