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Sustained Aerobics Can Make You Smarter

Sustained Aerobics Can Make You Smarter

VO2Max may sound like a new series on the SciFi channel, but it stands for maximum rate of oxygen consumption during exercise and is a measure of aerobic fitness. Cyclist Oskar Svendsen, as an 18 year old in Lillehammer, Norway, is said to have measured 97.5 -- one of the highest VO2 Max scores ever. U.S. Olympic marathoner Joan Benoit only hit 78.6!

But if a lab study from University of Michigan and the Academy of Finland is right, these folks are more than super-muscular athletes -- they’re super-Brainiacs too. It seems that sustained aerobic exercise, as opposed to short bursts of intense aerobics or resistance training, stimulates growth of new neurons in the brain. And that means there’s more ability to learn and navigate spatially complex environments.

So if you’re for more energy and more brain power, here’s how to get started.

  1. Exercise choices: Basic aerobic activities include swimming, cycling and walking. Up the intensity, as Dr. Mike does, by hitting 70-85 percent of your max age-adjusted heart rate during 48 minutes of aerobics, three times a week and doing 240 jumps daily.
  2. Exercise frequency: It’s okay to do basic aerobics daily -- unless you have reoccurring joint pain (or are training for an endurance event). Then work with a physical therapist to develop routines that are less inflammatory.
  3. Exercise intensity: To begin, do aerobic activity at a level that allows you to carry on a conversation. This "talk test" helps you determine if a particular activity is too strenuous for you.

Medically reviewed in June 2018.

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