A recent study indicates that sport is both the key to staying fit and maintaining a sharp wit. Middle aged people who were overweight took part in high-intensity interval training--the sort that competitive athletes undergo--for a four-month period. The study found that the exercise program not only reduced the subjects' BMIs and waist sizes, but also resulted in improved cognitive function as well.
Dr. Anil Nigam of the MHI and University of Montreal, in collaboration with the Montreal Geriatric University Institute, led the study. The participants, all of whom had increased cardiovascular risk, underwent cognitive tests before and after the four-month trial. Dr. Nigam said that at the end of the exercise program, his subjects "VO2max, insulin sensitivity had increased significantly, in tandem with their score on the cognitive tests and the oxygenation signals in the brain during exercise." VO2max is the body's aerobic threshold--the maximum capacity at which it can use oxygen during exercise. Endurance athletes aim to improve VO2max during training because that indicates a high level of fitness and a strong aerobic capacity. But according to this study, a high VO2 max is linked with improved cognitive function as well.
[via University of Montreal]
Related on SmartPlanet: