Can Cardiovascular Exercise Be The Miracle Cognitive Enhancer?

Can Cardiovascular Exercise Be The Miracle Cognitive Enhancer?

Memory Loss

Studies published by the US National Library of Medicine have revealed that regular aerobic exercise which involves exercise performed over a longer period of time and requires consistent, regular breathing and makes us sweat while also increasing our heart rate, know as ‘cardio’ in most fields can help prevent cognitive decline.

The studies suggest that the cognitive benefits come with exercise bouts of 30-45 minutes.

It is no secret that my 35 minute cycle to work makes me feel much better than either sat in a car or on public transport.

These studies also confirm that we can think with more clarity, we feel much better within ourselves not forgetting the cognitive protection we can experience over time.

It seems aerobic exercise such as cycling, swimming, rowing and jogging can help prevent stress, enhance feelings of exhilaration as well as stimulate the brain.

The studies involved a number of breast cancer survivors who had suffered from memory loss and issues being able to focus due the the side effects of chemotherapy.

They were issued with cognitive quizzes and instructed to include 30 minutes of cardiovascular aerobic exercise.

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The results showed that after just 30 minutes of walking for 4 days per week their scores on the quizzes improved.

This is due to the exercise strengthening the connectivity in their brain in an area whereby weakened connections are associated with memory loss.


In a similar study involving people with depression, a mere 30 minutes of walking for a consecutive 10 days was enough to reduce depression enough that clinically it was considered ‘significant.’

Further studies published in the British Medical Journal suggest that for people older than 50 a regime of fitness that includes both aerobic exercise and resistance training for a period of 45 minutes offers the most significant cognitive benefits.

While the real reasoning behind what causes the benefits are yet to be unanimously agreed upon, it is suggested by some that the increased blood flow which can provide more oxygen and blood to our brains is the cause behind the improved effects.

Other researchers have suggested that when we perform aerobic exercise the ability for the body to reduce stress such as cortisol and adrenaline is the reason why we can experience improved cognitive health.

It is suggested that people older than 50 do follow the suggested guidelines of 45 minutes exercise on as many days as possible incorporating both aerobic and resistance training.

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Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.

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