HIIT workouts for cognitive function

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By The Gut Health Doctor Team

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

A new study shows HIIT workouts benefit our brain function at any age!  We already know exercise is good for us – and now a new systematic review (when researchers pull together results from lots of studies) highlights the positive effects of high-intensity interval training too.

HIIT is essentially cardio exercise alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and recovery periods. Looking at 23 studies in total, some on the short-term and others long-term effects of HIIT on our brain (i.e. cognition), it was found to…

  •  Improve inhibition (ability to focus*) in children and adults in the short-term
  •  Improve inhibition and working memory** in children in the long-term

So what does that mean for you?

For adults, it’s worth thinking about adding some HIIT workouts into your exercise routines if you can for the potential brain benefits!

For your kids, children often do some sort of HIIT naturally – such as a game like tag that involves short intense bursts of activity – so it can be easily added into their day to foster better brain health (and why not join in with them?)

While you’re at home, there’s always PE with Joe Wicks too!

If you’re not a fan of HIIT, exercise more generally is still super important for our gut and overall health.

The most important thing is to find an exercise you enjoy and that you can make part of your regular routine. Yoga has also been linked to supporting brain health if that’s more your thing.

What do you guys prefer?

Before pregnancy, I was a fan of HIIT, but now I’m enjoying more yoga and mindfulness. Just like eating a diverse range of plants is key to optimal gut health, variety of exercise can work wonders too!

*Inhibition: the ability to selectively focus on task-relevant information while resisting attention elsewhere e.g. focusing on your work and not getting distracted by Instagram 😉

**working memory: the ability to hold information in your head and mentally work with it i.e. listening to what someone is saying and write it down in your own words.



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