Six minutes of high-intensity exercise substantially increases BDNF - a neurotrophic factor that helps keep the brain young.
Six 40-second intervals at 100% of VO2 max increased BDNF 4- to 5-fold more than light exercise for 90 minutes did.
- 6 minutes of high-intensity exercise could extend the lifespan of a healthy brain and delay the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- New research shows that a short but intense bout of cycling increases the production of a specialised protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that is essential for brain formation, learning and memory.
- BDNF promotes neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to form new connections and pathways) and the survival of neurons.
- Animal studies have shown that increasing the availability of BDNF encourages the formation and storage of memories, enhances learning, and overall boosts cognitive performance.
I tell my girlfriends that if they want no more hot flashes and a more peaceful and calm state of mind, running hard will do that for them! I am a happy woman because of running! That is how my life functions the best! Running is living well! I can see why it would onset neurodegenerative disorders!
This is excellent news! Thank you Dr. Daniel!
I hope you’re doing 200-400 m sprints instead of slow running for 90 minutes then. It’s the intensity of the exercise that matters here.
For our recommendation, zone 2 training is essential. “Zone 2 training builds a foundation for anything else we do in life,” we say. “It also plays a crucial role in preventing chronic disease by improving the health, efficiency, and flexibility of our mitochondria—which decline with age.”
Pick a cardio activity like walking, jogging, cycling, or rowing and go at a speed slow enough to maintain a conversation, but fast enough that the conversation might be a little strained. For benefits, a total of three hours per week—or four 45-minute sessions—is the minimum dose; but, more is better.
According to us, training in zone 5—or all-out efforts—is just as important. Thanks to the rapid decline in VO2 as we age, unless we train at high levels early, when we’re older, most of us won’t have the VO2 max to do many of the things we enjoy now. “The payoff of increasing our VO2 max is that it makes us functionally younger,” we say.
We recommend one to two VO2 max sessions per week for benefits (if we aren’t training for a triathlon or a specific sport, just one is enough). An example of a VO2 max workout could be performing three-minute high-intensity intervals, pushing yourself to your maximum effort during those intervals. After each high-intensity interval, take four minutes to walk or engage in light activity to recover. Repeat this cycle for a total of 40 minutes. This type of training can help improve your VO2 max and overall cardiovascular fitness.
Remember to listen to your body and adjust the intensity and duration of your workouts based on your fitness level and individual needs. It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns. They can provide personalized recommendations and ensure that you are engaging in activities that are safe and appropriate for you.