Research has again confirmed what we already knew: exercise can improve your brain function by increasing neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons).
As we’ve heard so far, this applies the most for running, weight lifting and high intensity interval training. Up until now, clinical studies have been using rats as subjects, but more recently some intensive independent research was done on humans as well.
For example, one study that set out to determine which type of training was most beneficial for the brain, had one untrained test subject who underwent different training routines – a jogging protocol for one week, a lifting protocol for one week, and HIIT protocol for one week.
The results were as following:
- The week of running was reported to have produced the greatest cognitive benefits in terms of mental clarity and ability to focus.
- The weight training brought all of its well-known benefits to the subject, but didn’t initiate that same level of mental clarity mentioned above. Based on previous studies, this might be due to the more immediate benefits of jogging compared to the more gradual accumulation of cognitive gains of weight lifting. In other words, previous studies have found that resistance training has a significant positive effect on cognition.
- By the time the subject got to HIIT, the previous workouts took their tool on his inexperienced body and all he got out of it was fatigue and soreness. So the positive effects of HIIT couldn’t really shine in this study due to overtraining. Now, if he was a more experienced athlete, he would harness far more positive results in term of brain function, as shown by other studies that have used a more efficient systematic progression in the training routines, applied to subjects with intermediate or advanced levels of experience with training.
This study is just another drop in the vast ocean of scientific research showing that all kinds of exercise can deliver a plethora of cognitive benefits, besides the obvious improvement of physical health and enhanced weight loss.
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Speaking about long-term effects, you just need to find the right type of training you can enjoy and benefit the most from, and do it regularly. And if you want immediate mental effects, jogging is your new best friend, so begin your mornings with a run to boost your cognitive performance and increase efficiency during the following working hours. As for weight training and HIIT, their benefits may take some more time to build up but we assure you they will be more than worth your effort and patience. And for exceptional results, perform all three kinds of exercise – let each have its turn or combine them all in your daily training schedule. There is no such thing as the only right way to train. When it comes to exercise, you simply cannot take the wrong turn!