RVNA Today: Benefits of exercise on brain health

A new review of current studies suggests that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training is beneficial to brain health, in addition to improving general health and reducing disease risk. The research review indicates that middle-aged people, over age 50, can improve their thinking and memory skills by adopting regular aerobic and resistance exercise at a moderate to vigorous level.

Different types of exercise are linked to different types of benefits. Aerobic exercise and tai chi seem to enhance overall brain function. Resistance training is linked to improved memory. A combination of the two types of exercise seems to have the greatest positive effect. The biggest brain boost comes from routines that are of moderate-to-vigorous intensity done as often as possible for between 45 minutes to an hour. Additional benefits from this type of exercise are improved cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength, which are important in maintaining overall good health. For people who want to become more active, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe to begin exercising. Getting instruction from a fitness professional can help ensure you’re getting the right exercise and setting achievable goals.