Just six minutes of daily exercise can improve brain health and delay Alzheimer’s, study finds

According to a new study, just six minutes of intensive exercise every day can increase brain longevity and prevent the onset of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The study, published this week in The Journal of Physiology, discovered that short bursts of high-intensity cycling can boost the synthesis of a unique brain protein associated with brain development, learning, and memory.

Scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand, for example, believe that an unique protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) may protect the brain against age-related cognitive loss.

Increasing the availability of BDNF in the brain stimulates memory formation and retention, improves learning, and improves general cognitive function, according to previous research.

“BDNF has shown significant promise in animal models, but pharmacological therapies have failed to safely harness the protective capacity of BDNF in people,” University of Otago researcher Travis Gibbons said in a statement.

“We identified a need to investigate non-pharmacological techniques that can sustain the brain’s capabilities that individuals can employ to naturally enhance BDNF to promote healthy aging,” Dr. Gibbons explained.

The current study examined the effects of fasting and exercise on BDNF production in 12 physically active people, six men and six women ranging in age from 18 to 56.

They looked studied how a 20-hour fast, gentle exercise, a six-minute high-intensity strenuous cycle, and the combined effects of fasting and exercise affected the synthesis of this protein.

When compared to a day of fasting with or without a lengthier session of modest activity, scientists discovered that brief but strenuous exercise is the best approach to enhance BDNF.

According to the researchers, BDNF increases four to five times when compared to fasting or extended exercise.

“Six minutes of high-intensity cycling intervals boosted each circulating BDNF measurement 4- to 5-fold greater than sustained low-intensity riding,” the study’s authors said.

However, the source of these discrepancies is unknown, according to the researchers, who stress that additional study is needed to understand the molecular systems involved.

Scientists believe that during exercise, the brain changes from one favoured energy source to another to guarantee that the body’s energy demands are satisfied.

“We are currently looking at how long-term fasting, for example, up to three days, impacts BDNF. “We’re interested in seeing if vigorous training early in the fast enhances the favourable benefits of fasting,” Dr. Gibbons explained.

“Fasting and exercise are rarely researched in conjunction. Fasting and exercise, we believe, may be employed in tandem to enhance BDNF synthesis in the human brain,” he added.

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