Morning Exercise and Cognitive Fitness
Strategic exercise timing may support brain health.
There may be something to the adage “The early bird catches the worm,” and it’s good news for those who love early-morning workouts. Not only is sunrise training an invigorating way to start the day; it may also stimulate adequate blood flow levels to the brain throughout the day, even during lengthy periods of inactivity.
Researchers wanted to evaluate whether moderate-intensity morning exercise, with or without breaks during subsequent prolonged sitting, enhanced blood flow to the brain in older adults. Participants were 12 overweight and obese men and women, ages 55–80.
“What we found was that during uninterrupted sitting, there was a pattern of decline in brain blood flow over 8 hours,” said lead study author Michael Wheeler, PhDc, of the University of Western Australia in Perth. “However, when participants performed a morning bout of exercise with or without subsequent breaks in sitting, brain blood flow improved in the afternoon, several hours after exercise.”
“Uninterrupted sitting should be avoided,” wrote study authors, “and moderate-intensity exercise should be encouraged for the daily maintenance of cerebral blood flow.”
Find the study in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2019; 126 , 1049–55).