Exercise can pump up your brain as well as your body, and may slow down serious cognitive ailments like dementia. Even a modest amount of exercise can lead to measurable improvements.
A new study from the University of British Columbia looked at the progression of vascular dementia, scanning the brains of older adults and examining the areas associated with memory, decision-making, and attention. Half of the participants then engaged in a simple walking program: one hour of brisk walking, three times a week.
It worked! After six months, the walkers’ brains worked more efficiently, which correlated with improved performance on cognitive tests.
It goes to show that every bit helps, even if it’s only an hour a day a few times a week. Of course, the effects may have been even stronger with more exercise. By tracking your cognitive performance and physical activity over time, you can discover if days with exercise put you at your cognitive best, and monitor for long-term brain changes as you move forward with a fitness plan.