Is it really possible to increase the size of the brain later in life?
Data from a randomized controlled study of 155 older women, who participated in 52 weeks of resistance training showed reduced cortical white matter atrophy on MRI scans when compared with the control group (Best JR, et.al., 2015).
This means that they ended up with a bigger brain than they would have had if they had not done the resistance exercise. Twice-weekly resistance training also promoted memory and increased peak muscle power when they were followed up after 2 years.
The control group did balance and toning.
If you instead prefer aerobic type of exercise, that may also improve your cognition.
Research showed that an individual's cardio-respiratory fitness was a better predictor of cognitive gains than the exercise dose (Vidoni ED, et.al., 2015).
To improve cardio-respiratory function you can do regular aerobic exercise, or you can do high intensity short interval training which will save you time.
This study compared the effects of long slow distance training with high-intensity interval training in rowers (Ní Chéilleachair NJ, et.al., 2017).
High intensity short interval training was more effective than long and slow distance training in improving performance and aerobic characteristics.
Best JR, Chiu BK, Liang Hsu C, Nagamatsu LS, Liu-Ambrose T.Long-Term Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Cognition and Brain Volume in Older Women: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Nov;21(10):745-56.
Vidoni ED, Johnson DK, Morris JK, Van Sciver A, Greer CS, Billinger SA, Donnelly JE, Burns JM,Dose-Response of Aerobic Exercise on Cognition: A Community-Based, Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 9;10(7):e0131647.
NÃ ChÃ©illeachair NJ1,2, Harrison AJ2, Warrington GD,HIIT enhances endurance performance and aerobic characteristics more than high-volume training in trained rowers.J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1052-1058
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