Dementia is a daunting condition, which is in the cards for many. It is caused by a variety of factors and can be attributed to several different diseases. With our population ageing rapidly, more and more people will be suffering from dementia in the near future. But what can we do to reduce the risk of this condition? Scientists from the University of Queensland revealed that High intensity interval training (HIIT) might help doing just that.
High intensity interval training or HIIT is literally what it sounds like – very intensive periods of exercising separated by periods of rest. HIIT is a good way to get fit and it can be quite fun. However, now scientists say that it may also help to reduce the risk of dementia and other age-related cognitive illnesses. All kinds of exercise are good for that, but HIIT seems to be better at increasing brain blood flow in older adults than continuous exercise.
The study was conducted by University of Queensland in collaboration with Associate Professor Christopher Askew at the University of the Sunshine Coast and neuroscientists at the German Sport University Cologne. It is the first research of its kind to compare the brain blood flow in younger and older men during both continuous and interval exercise. The factor in question is blood flow and how to increase it. The problem is that as we age, the blood flow to the brain reduces significantly, which has been associated with the onset of dementia. It is known that exercising improves blood flow and cardiovascular health in general. But which kind of is better in terms of age-related dementia we still didn’t know.
Scientists conducted a study and found that HIIT as effective as continuous exercise for increasing brain blood flow in older adults when they are exercising. However, during periods of rest those people who were doing HIIT enjoyed a better blood flow. This means that in the overall effectiveness HIIT is better at preventing dementia. Dr Tom Bailey, one of the authors of the study, said: “The benefits of exercise on brain function are thought to be caused by the increase in blood flow and shear stress, the frictional force of blood along the lining of the arteries, which occurs during exercise”.
This study does prove that HIIT improves the blood flow in the brain. This does mean that it should be included in strategies aiming to reduce the risk of dementia. Scientists are already laying out the future stages for this study. They are going to research long-term effects of HIIT – it is important to see what benefits such exercising brings over a longer period of time.
Source: University of Queensland