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Highly intensive interval training is important for improving memory in older people

According to a new study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, intensive exercise is also needed to improve memory in older people. High-intensity exercises are usually very short exercises in which “explosions” of activity occur, during which you experience more fatigue than the average.

The researchers behind this study noted that elderly people who have been trained using this technique many times can boast a 30% improvement in memory compared to those who have always done exercises moderately.

According to researchers, it is also a good method of reducing the risk of dementia in older people, even in healthy older people who have not yet exhibited any symptoms. Physical activity remains the biggest risk factor for dementia, says Jennifer Heissz, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at McMaster University and lead author of the study.

The researcher and her colleagues have observed dozens of adults with low mobility but a tendency to live healthy lives. The subjects were between the ages of 60 and 88 and were under observation for about 12 weeks. The same subjects had to be attended either High-Intensity Intermediate Learning (HIIT) or Continuous Intensive Intermediate Learning (MICT) three times a week. The other control group, on the other hand, only did stretch marks, which is a more moderate activity.

To understand the effect on subject memory, researchers used a special test, which calculates the number of new neurons formed as a result of the exercise, usually neurons that are ideal for forming new connections and preserving memory more active and effective. Observations have shown that HIIT subjects, i.e. those who have conducted training interspersed with short, high-intensity activities, have shown higher memory efficiency than MICT subjects, i.e. those who have conducted continuous learning without peak effort, and compared to the control group.

“It’s never too late to get brain health benefits from physical activity, but if you start late and want to see the results quickly, our research shows that you may need to increase the intensity of exercise,” Heish recalls.

Janice Walker

Janice Walker is a biologist (having graduated from Prescott College in 2013) and an experienced writer. She currently works as a pharmacist, contributing research and content to during her nights and weekends. During her time at Prescott College she was an active contributor to her student journal and hopes to grow up as a well established, popular science blog.
Janice Walker