The Meeting Place

This type of exercise can improve your memory by 30 per cent

woman sweating

We’ve all heard how exercise is good for our health, our bodies and our brains, but there’s one type of exercise that can boost your memory by up to 30 per cent, says a new study published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

High-intensity interval training results in the greatest memory performance in inactive older adults compared to moderate continuous training or stretching, say researcher who analysed healthy older adults between the ages of 60 and 88 over a 12-week period and participated in three sessions per week.

These older individuals were divided into three groups: one which participated in high-intensity exercise, another that performed moderate-intensity continuous training and the third which participated in stretching only.

When testing the amount of each group's "newborn" neurons which tend to be generated by exercise, researchers found that those who participated in the high-intensity workouts improved their memory performance by 30 per cent, while the group who exercised moderately saw no improvement.

"There is urgent need for interventions that reduce dementia risk in healthy older adults. Only recently have we begun to appreciate the role that lifestyle plays, and the greatest modifying risk factor of all is physical activity," said lead author of the study Jennifer Heisz.

"It's never too late to get the brain health benefits of being physically active, but if you are starting late and want to see results fast, our research suggests you may need to increase the intensity of your exercise," says Heisz.

Dr Heisz doesn’t suggest that adding intensity top your exercise regimen can be as “simple as venturing up hills on your daily walk or increasing your pace between street lamps”.

A workout that lasts as little as five minutes and can boost memory function, she says, which sounds like my type of exercise.

5 comments

What you don't say is that that 5 minutes of exercise MUST be high intensity. High intensity hurts! It means going full pelt at your absolute maximum level. High Intensity workouts are extreme, they hurt but they pay results!

It does not state what type of exercise or what igh intensity interva; training actually mean.

Keen to try this but what kind of exercise are we talking about?

Google for examples of recommended excercise - and the best of luck! 

What I did was during my walks I started to jog a little, each time increasing until I could jog for 30 seconds but not too fast, you get better as time goes. The other thing I do is get on the exercise bike and do slow peddle then 30 seconds fast and repeat until my legs hurt. It has made me a lot fitter. I also go for bike rides.

Older adults can definitely reap the benefits of HIIT, but before kicking off  on this type of regime, a talk with your GP to make sure you don't have any pre-existing medical conditions that might make HIIT a bit risky eg heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis or an old injury.

You should be screened by the doc and advisable to have the supervision of an accredited exercise physiologist to get you on the right track, once you have the confidence to do without supervision. then you’re ready to go on your own.

Wise advice.

Good advice but only if your GP understands exercise in general and HITT in particular. Sadly many don't.

I was just thinking the same thing. HIIT exercise is not for everyone, and older adults need to make sure their body is able to handle this type of exercise. Good to consult their GP first, healthwise.

And as KSS mentioned, some GP may not be as well-versed in HIIT exercises, might be a good idea to talk to a physical therapist or personal trainer to discuss, get a better understanding or have a coach keep an eye on you and give advise while initially doing HIIT exercises.

5 comments