Daily physical activity can strongly boost your brain function

In a new study from the University of California San Diego, researchers found daily physical activity is linked to better cognitive performance in middle-aged and older people.

They found on the days their physical activity increased, the 50- to 74-year-old participants performed more effectively on an executive function task, and on the days when their physical activity decreased, so too did their cognitive performance.

The correlation between physical activity and cognition remained when adjustments were made for various co-morbidities, such as HIV status, age, sex, education, and race/ethnicity.

But it held only for people who function dependently—who rely on others to perform the tasks of daily living, such as managing household activities or paying the bills.

For them, physical activity may have a greater benefit on daily, real-world cognitive performance.

This finding is consistent with research into Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Though it didn’t fall within the purview of this study, the team speculated that because functionally independent adults likely perform more cognitively stimulating and social activities, which are known to have positive impacts on brain health, physical activity may have less of an impact on cognition.

The work has implications for the development of novel digital health interventions to preserve brain health in aging.

The team says future interventions, in which we ask people to increase their physical activity, will help us determine if daily changes in physical activity lead to daily gains in cognition measured remotely or vice versa.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about 9 unhealthy habits that damage your brain, and this diet leads to fewer blood clots in the brain.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about a better way to treat deadly brain cancer, and results showing this stuff in cannabis may protect aging brain, treat Alzheimer’s.

The study is published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, and was conducted by Raeanne Moore et al.

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