Physical exercise increases cognitive abilities in middle age

Physical exercise increases cognitive abilities in middle age

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  • Global recommendations call for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
  • 95% of French people do not have enough sporting activity to maintain their health, according to ANSES.
  • According to a 2022 English-language study, just 30 minutes of “moderate to vigorous physical activity” per day is enough to make up for ten hours of time spent sitting.

According to a new study published online in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Adequate amount of time spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity each day is associated with cognitive performance over 40.

Sedentary behaviors associated with impaired cognitive performance

Among the improved abilities, the researchers identified working memory and mental processes such as planning and organizing. Conversely, very little daily activity and sedentary behavior are associated with poor cognitive functioning. A sedentary lifestyle is defined as a state of wakefulness that is characterized by reduced energy expenditure in a sitting or lying position, according to the Department of Health.

To reach these findings, the scientists relied on data from a British cohort study dating back to 1970. The participants’ health was followed throughout childhood and adulthood. From 2016 to 2018, 8,581 volunteers reached ages 46 and 47, at which point they were asked to complete detailed questionnaires about health, background and lifestyle, and to wear an activity tracker up to 7 days and for at least 10 consecutive hours each time. Day The final analysis included 4,481 participants, just over half of whom were women.

Physical activity plays a vital role in enhancing cognition

They administered various cognitive tests to assess their verbal memory (immediate and delayed word recall tasks) and their executive functions (verbal fluency and processing speed/accuracy). Scores for each test were calculated to produce an overall score for assessing memory and executive function. Time spent on moderate and physical activities was positively associated with cognitive performance after adjusting for education level and physical activity at work, compared to sedentary behaviors.

Because this is an observational study, the researchers can’t really claim to prove a causal relationship between more physical activity and better cognitive performance once you get older. Especially since the study has some limitations, such as the difficulties of measuring activities and the lack of participant diversity despite the large sample size. However, they concluded: “This powerful method supports the essential role of intense and moderate physical activity in enhancing cognition, and efforts should be made to better integrate it into our daily lives.”






















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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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