A recent study published in The Journal of Physiology has found that high-intensity interval exercises can help to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the blood. BDNF is a protein which plays an important role in learning and memory formation, and may help protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that the largest increase of BDNF occurred after six minutes of high-intensity interval exercise.
Previous studies have suggested that exercise can improve brain function and possibly memory in people with mild cognitive impairment, although the results have been mixed. Rong Zhang, PhD, a professor of neurology and internal medicine at UT Southwestern in Dallas, noted that the new study focused on the short-term effects of two exercise sessions, but other studies have also found that exercise can increase levels of BDNF.
Dr. Zhang added that another challenge is that it takes a long time for the positive effects of exercise to accumulate, so if people wish to improve their mental health, they should start exercising earlier and do it regularly. He also said that further research is needed to determine whether exercise can prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, or boost memory in people with cognitive impairment.
In conclusion, the new study has shown that high-intensity interval exercises can help to boost levels of BDNF. While further research is needed to understand the long-term effects of exercise on the brain, it is clear that it has a positive effect, and people should start exercising early and do it regularly in order to reap the benefits.