Ex­er­cise leads to bet­ter prob­lem-solv­ing

CityPress - - News -

Even two min­utes of ex­er­cise per day could be enough to im­prove your brain health and mem­ory, a new study has found.

Re­searchers look­ing at past stud­ies found that any amount of ex­er­cise, even if it is just a short walk, was good for the brains of peo­ple aged be­tween 18 and 35.

The UK’s Na­tional Health Ser­vice rec­om­mends that adults do at least two hours of mod­er­ate ac­tiv­ity per week, but sci­ence sug­gests that a lot less could still be worth­while. Ex­er­cise was found to be good for the brain be­cause it made nerve cells more ac­tive and in­creased dopamine lev­els, help­ing to sharpen fo­cus and mem­ory.

The ef­fects af­ter short pe­ri­ods of ex­er­cise were found to last for at least two hours in the tests, while the re­searchers said in­tense ex­er­cise brought long-term im­prove­ment.

As well as boost­ing brain health, ex­er­cise at any level is proven to bring health ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing a strength­ened heart and lungs, and a low­ered risk of longterm ill­nesses such as type 2 di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure and heart dis­ease.

The Swedish re­searchers who did the study sug­gested that their find­ings, which were spe­cific to young peo­ple, could help them to learn and per­form bet­ter at school and at work. The re­view looked at peo­ple aged be­tween 18 and 35 who ex­er­cised by walk­ing, run­ning or cy­cling at mod­er­ate to high in­ten­sity. Re­searchers an­a­lysed the sub­jects’ brain power af­ter ex­er­cise, test­ing them on things such as re­mem­ber­ing a list of 15 words. Those who ex­er­cised in bursts of two min­utes, 15 min­utes, half an hour or an hour all im­proved on tests and showed bet­ter con­cen­tra­tion and prob­lem-solv­ing skills.

Find­ings from 13 other stud­ies were an­a­lysed by re­searchers from the Jönköping and Linköping uni­ver­si­ties in Swe­den.

Ex­er­cise is be­lieved to in­crease the level of a pro­tein called brain-de­rived neu­rotrophic fac­tor, which is thought to be im­por­tant for mem­ory, the sci­en­tists said. Ex­er­cis­ing is also known to in­crease lev­els of the feel-good hor­mone, which works as a neu­ro­trans­mit­ter, help­ing sig­nals flit quickly around the brain.

Higher lev­els of dopamine, the re­searchers said, “may en­hance at­ten­tion and mem­ory”.

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