Exercises That Boost Brain Health After Age 50

A woman exercises with dumbbells
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Exercise can boost brain power significantly for folks who are over age 50 — regardless of the current state of their brain health.

That’s the conclusion of new research described by The BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal, as “the most comprehensive review of the available evidence to date.” The findings were recently published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers reviewed 39 existing studies that had been published up to the end of 2016. They wanted to better evaluate the potential impact of various types, intensities, and durations of exercise on brain health.

The types of exercise that researchers found beneficial include:

  1. Aerobic exercise, which “significantly enhanced” cognitive abilities.
  2. Resistance training, such as weights, which “had a pronounced effect on” executive function (processes responsible for goal-oriented behaviors), memory (storage and retrieval) and working memory (short-term application of found information).
  3. Tai chi, which “improved” cognitive abilities — although the researchers note this finding was based on only a few studies, so further research is needed.

The study publisher notes of the findings on aerobic exercise and resistance training:

The evidence is strong enough to recommend prescribing both types of exercise to improve brain health in the over 50s, say the researchers.

The optimal exercise intensity is moderate to vigorous, researchers found. The optimal duration is a session of 45 to 60 minutes — with any frequency being beneficial.

These findings are in keeping with what we noted in “7 Free or Cheap Ways to Boost Your Brain Power“:

“Exercise is perhaps the most thoroughly documented way to improve and protect brain health.”

If you’re ready to get moving, you might want to check out “The Best Home Exercise Equipment for People Over 50.”

What’s your favorite type of exercise? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

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