Finally, a prescription for the precise amount of exercise you need to keep your brain in tip-top shape: After reviewing 98 clinical trials, researchers determined that working out for at least 52 hours over the course of six months can help older adults stay mentally sharp.
Exercise had the greatest impact on “processing speed and executive function,” study author Joyce Gomes-Osman, Ph.D., of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told MedPage Today. (Executive function is the ability to plan, organize and complete tasks.) “This is evidence that you can actually turn back the clock of aging in your brain by adopting a regular exercise regimen,” she went on to say.
The findings are based on a review of close to 100 clinical trials, which led to a total of more than 11,000 participants with an average age of 73. The past trials tested the cognitive benefits of various exercises, including walking, biking, dancing, strength training, tai chi, and yoga, practiced for a range of four weeks to a year.
After analyzing the data, Dr. Gomes-Osman and colleagues at the Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) found that aerobic workouts (like running or Spinning) along with strength-training and mind-body activities (like yoga) all boost brain power.