You already know that regular exercise will get your body into its best shape ever, but according to new research, it might also do the same for your mind: A review of studies published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that moving for just 45 minutes a day could boost your brain health and improve your cognition — even if you've already started to show signs of cognitive decline.
In the April 2017 meta-analysis, University of Canberra researchers analyzed the results of 39 previous studies on exercise and cognitive function in adults age 50 and older. Although the studies looked at different types of exercise (think: aerobic exercise, resistance training, and tai chi), they all came to similar conclusions when compared side-by-side: Getting up and moving at a moderate intensity for at least 45 minutes at a time was linked to improved cognition (memory and overall brain function included) — and the more days a week that person squeezed in those 45-minute sessions, the greater cognitive benefits they reaped!
The researchers also found trends in the way certain types of exercise improved people's brain health: Aerobic exercise helped with things like thinking, reading, learning, and reasoning; resistance training helped with memory, planning, and organizing.
Based on their findings, the researchers recommend that adults try to engage in a combo of aerobic exercise and resistance training, as they appeared to generate the best cognitive results when done together. That might sound intimidating, but have no fear — it's easier to clock 45 minutes of moving 'n' lifting than you might think. Take these simple activities, for example (and yes, they all count!):
The moral of the story? It's never too late to add a little physical activity into your daily routine — and doing so just might help your brain as much as it helps your body!