High-intensity interval training makes middle-aged people not only healthier but smarter, showed a Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) study led by Dr. Anil Nigam of the MHI and University of Montreal, in collaboration with the Montreal Geriatric University Institute.
The participants all had a body-mass index (BMI) between 28 and 31 (overweight) in addition to one or more other cardiovascular risk factors. Body-mass index is calculated as a person’s weight divided by their height squared (kg/m2) — 25 to 30 is considered overweight, over 30 is obese. High-intensity interval training involves alternating between short periods of low and high intensity aerobic exercise — for example, a series of 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of walking or jogging.
"We worked with six adults who all followed a four-month program of twice weekly interval training on stationary bicycles and twice weekly resistance training. Cognitive function, VO2max and brain oxygenation during exercise testing revealed that the participants’ cognitive functions had greatly improved thanks to the exercise," Dr. Nigam said. VO2max is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during exercise. It impacts on the body’s ability to oxygenate the brain and is related to cognitive function.
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