In a new study, researchers found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) may help prevent age-related cognitive illnesses, such as dementia.
They found that high-intensity interval exercise may be more effective than continuous exercise in improving brain blood flow in older people.
The finding shows that exercise can do more than just keeping people fit and strong.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Queensland and other institutes.
Interval exercise is characterized by short bouts of intense activity separated by rest periods.
High-intensity interval training has been shown beneficial for improving cardiovascular health, but its effect on brain health has been unknown.
Previous research has found that as people getting old, the flow of blood to the brain and arterial function decreases.
This is linked to a higher risk of cognitive decline and stroke. Increasing brain blood flow and function in older adults can help solve the problem.
In the new study, the team tested 11 young men and 10 old men. These people did intensity- and work-matched bouts of continuous and interval cycling.
The researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure and brain blood flow.
They found that the interval exercise was as effective as continuous exercise for increasing brain blood flow in older adults during the periods of activity.
Moreover, the interval exercise was more effective than continuous exercise in increasing the overall blood flow during both the exercise and the rest periods.
The team explains that the health benefits of the exercise on brain function may be caused by the increase in blood flow and the frictional force of blood along the lining of the arteries.
Both the exercise and the rest period were important for increasing brain blood flow in older adults.
The findings may help to optimize exercise programs to enhance brain function.
Future work needs to see if the benefits of interval exercise on brain health can last in the long run.
This is the first study to compare brain blood flow in younger and older men during both continuous and interval exercise.
One author of the study is Researcher Dr. Tom Bailey from the Centre for Research on Exercise.
The study is published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
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