• Mayuri Vaish

Type of exercise influences its neural effects: what the data says

Firstly research suggests that exercise must be in the long-term to maintain cognitive benefits.[1] Additionally, even moderate exercise has shown to improve memory and prevent cognitive decline, suggesting that any kind of exercise - as compared to no exercise - is helpful.[2]


With regards to the type of exercise, short periods of high intensity exercise suggested to be more beneficial than longer, less intense workouts - specifically by raising executive function, BDNF levels (that promote neurogenesis), hormones that elevate mood (catecholamines) and learning.[3][4] Nevertheless, generally it is suggested that the overall amount of exercise matters most for brain health - it is less dependent upon the type of work done.[5]


Additionally, research suggests that exercising with people or within a community is better than doing so in isolation.[6] Moreover, exercise involving cognitive function - such as sports - has indicated higher brain benefits.[7] Thus, ideally a sport or at least workouts involving social interaction are better for the brain as opposed to its alternatives.


Lastly, exercising in the cold - or at least, not in the heat - raises neural function.[8]