This Workout May Prevent Cognitive Decline & Is Quicker Than You Think

mbg Contributor By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.

Image by Milles Studio / Stocksy

We're big fans of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) here at mbg, and not just because it can be done anywhere, in a short amount of time, and with minimal equipment. HIIT has been proven to have age-reversing benefits, along with improving metabolic functioning (it burns calories even after your workout!). And now scientists have found there could also be cognitive benefits at the cellular level.

A new study published in Experimental Biology and Medicine is the first study to look at the effects of HIIT on cognitive dysfunction in obese people. Obese individuals have a lower expression of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), a protein in the brain necessary for the proper functioning of nerve cells and neurons. A deficiency of this brain protein could put people at greater risk for developing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and obesity.

Male subjects participated in a HIIT workout, which included five minutes of walking or jogging followed by four HIIT intervals (four minutes each) and three minutes of active recovery after each interval. Blood samples were collected before and after the workout as well as one hour after the completion of the exercise to test for BDNF levels.

The researchers from Florida Atlantic University found that the BDNF expression was stronger in the HIIT workouts than the moderate-intensity exercises in the obese group versus normal-weight groups. This suggests that HIIT may be an effective way to upregulate BDNF in the obese population and prevent and mitigate cognitive dysfunction in obese people.

Further research including large-scale studies with both males and females could provide a greater understanding of the links between obesity, BDNF, and the effectiveness of different types of workouts on cognitive functioning.

With brain health, a major trend (we've predicted) in 2019, as well as continued love for HIIT, we can't wait to hear more.

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