Numerous studies demonstrate that cardiovascular exercise boosts brain fitness. New findings from Canadian and French researchers show that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improves executive function more than moderate-intensity, continuous aerobic training (MICT) or resistance training (RT) over a 6-week training period.

Investigators conducted the study with 69 healthy, active older adults ages 61–75, collecting data on cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive testing. Researchers divided subjects into three training groups: MICT, RT and HIIT. Cognitive tests measured processing speed in three distinct tasks—naming, interference and switching.

Data analysis showed that both HIIT and MICT participants improved cardiorespiratory fitness. Those who participated in HIIT, however, improved significantly in the “switching” cognitive task, demonstrating progress in flexible thinking. Researchers concluded that HIIT enhanced executive function improvements in the short term and noted that a study conducted over a longer period of time might reveal more benefits from other training intensity levels.

Find the study in Brain Sciences (2020; 10 [11], 796).

See also: Exercise Promotes Brain Fitness in Everyone