Daily wisdom: the fit brain

How to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s with exercise

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance.Sportand exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, andtechnologyhelp you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In ourdaily news series, Matt Berenc, director of education at the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, addresses some of the latest fitness research and news stories.

Today’s Topic: Working out for your brain

The Science:The “most comprehensive review of the available evidence to date” concludes that combining aerobic and resistance exercise can significantly increase brain power in people age 50 and over. The former helps to improve cognitive function while the latter has more of an impact on memory.

EQX Expert Insight: Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are the sixth leading cause of death—and they’re unfortunately on the rise (they’ve increased by 89 percent since 2000). “Studies like this one are important because they point to the potential for non-invasive, easily accessible forms of prevention,” says Berenc. “This research shows that memory, cognitive abilities, and executive function are all positively impacted by exercise. And even though the participants were over the age of 50, the results are important for everyone. "For younger people specifically, there is growing research showing that the better they take care of themselves now—either through diet or exercise—the greater the chances of delaying (or reversing) the onset of this disease," says Berenc. "As one researcher put it, the check you write now will be cashed later in life."

The Bottom Line: There aren’t definitive guidelines for how much or what kind of exercise will result in a lasting positive impact on brain health. “Until more research is done, doing moderate to vigorous activity multiple days per week is a good first step,” says Berenc.