Editor’s note: Consult a health care provider before beginning an exercise program.
What if you looked at all the things you do every day—walking from room to room, preparing a presentation at your desk, running up and down the stairs to deliver the folded laundry, or taking a walk around the block? to do—and know which things will be the best help. Or is your brain hurt?
A new study attempted to answer that question by attaching activity monitors to the thighs of nearly 4,500 people in the UK and tracking their 24-hour movements for seven days. The researchers then examined how the participants’ behavior affected their short-term memory, problem-solving and processing skills.
Here’s the good news: People who spent “even a little bit of time doing more vigorous activity — had higher cognitive scores,” said study author John Mitchell. student in council doctoral training at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health at University College London, in an email.
Moderate physical activity is usually defined as brisk walking or cycling or running up and down stairs. Vigorous movement, such as aerobic dance, jogging, running, swimming and hill biking, will increase your heart rate and breathing.
the study, Published Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.doing just less than 10 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise each day improved the working memory of study participants but had the greatest effect on executive processes such as planning and organization.
The cognitive improvements were modest, Mitchell said, but as additional time was spent doing more vigorous exercise, the benefits increased.
“Given that we did not monitor participants’ cognition over many years, it may simply be that individuals who move more are more cognitive on average,” he said. “However, yes, it can also mean that even the smallest changes in our daily lives can have downstream consequences for our cognition.”
Steven Mullen, an associate professor of kinesiology and health at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told CNN that the study provides new insights into how activity interacts with sedentary behavior as well as sleep.
“Understanding the interplay between sleep and different physical activities is often under-examined,” said Malin, who was not involved in the new research.
Although the study had some limitations, including a lack of information about the participants’ health, the results show how “accumulation of movement patterns from one day to one week to one month is just as is, if not more important, than just getting out for a session of exercise,” he said.
There was bad news, too: Spending too much time sleeping, sitting, or just moving around was linked to negative effects on the brain. The study found that replacing equal parts of moderate to vigorous physical activity with eight minutes of sedentary behavior, six minutes of light intensity or seven minutes of sleep reduced cognition by 1% to 2%. .
“In most cases we showed that as little as 7 to 10 minutes of MVPA (moderately vigorous physical activity) was harmful,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell emphasized that this change is only an association, not cause and effect, due to the study’s observational methods.
Also, study results about sleep cannot be taken at face value, he said. Good quality sleep is essential for the brain to function at its best.
“The evidence for the importance of sleep for cognitive performance is strong,” Mitchell said, “yet there are two important caveats. First, excessive sleep may be linked to poorer cognitive performance.
“Second, sleep quality may be even more important than duration. Our accelerometer devices can estimate how long people sleep, but cannot tell us how well they sleep.
Additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and to understand the role of each type of activity. However, Mitchell said, this study highlights how very small differences in people’s daily movement — as little as 10 minutes — are linked to very real changes in our cognitive health.”