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This could be the best way to boost brain power

A new study in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health shows that exercising in your 40s may help your brain process and remember information better.

Researchers in London say that middle-aged people who regularly do moderate to vigorous physical activity score higher on tests of their thinking skills. On the other hand, people who don’t move around much or spend their days sitting seem to have less mental capacity.

Studies that looked at the benefits of exercise in middle age found a link to better brain health. These studies, on the other hand, didn’t look into other possible reasons for the increase in brain power, like how long a person sleeps. This study shows that moderate to high-intensity exercise improves cognition, especially in the parts of the brain that are in charge of working memory, organising, and planning.

As part of the 1970 British Cohort Study, the health of nearly 4,500 people born in the United Kingdom in 1970 was tracked. From 2016 to 2018, participants, who are now 46 to 47 years old, had to give a full update on their health, upbringing, and lifestyle. They also wore an activity monitor for at least 10 hours a day for a week to track how much they moved around. To find out how people think, they took a series of cognitive tests that looked at their verbal memory and executive function.

According to the data from the activity trackers, people did light physical activity for an average of 5 hours and 42 minutes and moderate to intense physical activity for 51 minutes. On average, people in their mid-forties sat for nine hours and sixteen minutes a day. Every night, the people in the study slept for about 8 hours and 11 minutes, which many studies say is the right amount.

People who sat around most of the time were more likely to have higher cognitive ratings, which is interesting. The researchers think this might be because these people read or worked instead of watching TV for long periods of time. The correlations were stronger for executive functions, like organising and processing information, than for memory.

The people who did best on cognitive tests were physically more active and less sedentary. They also slept for shorter amounts of time. Most of the time, the people who did the worst in school did light physical activities like walking.

The study’s authors found that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity alone had the biggest effect on how well someone could think. When a person did more high-intensity exercise and less than nine minutes of sedentary activity, their brain power went up by 1.31 percent. When people switched from passive to active exercise, their brain power went up by 1.27 percent. The study team also found that patients’ thinking skills improved by 1.2% when they skipped seven minutes of sleep in favour of high-impact activities.

Only when sedentary behaviours like sitting were swapped out for either 37 minutes of light exercise or 56 minutes of sleep did they continue to help with cognition. But people whose sedentary habits took the place of eight minutes of hard work saw their cognitive scores drop by 1-2%.

The results show that being very active makes people smarter, but since this was an observational study, there are some things to keep in mind.

First, the activity trackers only kept track of how much time was spent in bed. Neither the amount nor the quality of sleep was taken into account. Some people may have spent eight hours in bed but still couldn’t sleep. Sleep loss can also make it hard to think.

Activity monitors only measure how hard you move, so it’s possible that a workout like running a half-marathon and lifting weights could have different effects on the body.