A study conducted by US researchers found that regularly practicing aerobic exercises for six months helps to greatly improve cognitive functions
Performing aerobic exercise three times a week for six months, whether it be a walk or a bike ride, can rejuvenate the brain by about nine years of age, helping to improve cognitive functions. According to research conducted by a group of scholars led by James Blumenthal, a researcher at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and published in the journal Neurology.
Study conducted on 160 participants
The experts involved 160 participants with an average age of 65, all with mild cognitive deficits, such as memory problems and mental organization, decision-making skills and a sedentary lifestyle. The sample examined was then divided into four groups, each with specific exercises to be performed. The first had to do 45 minutes of sport, which included 10 minutes of warm up and 35 minutes on a treadmill running or walking, three times a week. The second was prescribed a diet against hypertension (DASH), consisting of meat, foods rich in fiber (legumes, dried fruit, fresh fruit, vegetables) and salt-poor. The third group, instead, had to follow both indications, while the last one neither. All the participants were evaluated before and after the test with specific cognitive exams and studied ad hoc.
Sport helps improve cognitive functions
The program lasted a total of six months, at the end of which those who were part of the first group (sport only) and those belonging to the third group (sport and diet) showed a considerable improvement in their 'executive functions', ie in capacity to reflect, decide, organize and carry out a task comparable to nine years of rejuvenation. The researchers then observed that the participants who practiced sport and followed the diet, whose brain initially had an estimated age of 93 years, 28 more than their true age due to cognitive deficits, at the end of the research showed to have improved their executive functions, comparable after the experiment to those of a 84 year-old.
No improvement was noted, however, in the other two groups, a sign that the diet alone is not enough to bring about significant changes. Experts, however, state that further testing will be needed on a larger sample than verifying this.