Cognitive Benefits of Training

Research suggests a link between physical exercise and cognitive function. The implementation of a regulated exercise regiment in midlife or later appears to lessen the risk of mild cognitive impairment. Evidence also indicates that the physical activity performed for a six month period or longer, at close to the anaerobic threshold (AT) is the most advantageous for cognitive benefits. (The anaerobic threshold is the level of oxygen consumption at which there is a rapid and systematic increase in blood lactate concentration. This is also referred to as the lactate threshold). Exercising at a high-intensity may even improve cognitive function in those individuals already displaying signs of mental deterioration.

The exact reason for the improvement or stability of cognitive power may not be fully known, however, it has been theorized that physical exercise may protect against mild cognitive impairment because of the increased blood flow to the brain. Along with enhanced blood flow there is also an amplification in the production of nerve protecting compounds, improved development and the survival of neurons, and a decrease in the risk of disease to the heart or blood vessels.

Given this information it would seem ideal to train at your AT level. Such methods of training which could help place you at this level would include; kettlebell work, circuit training, or interval runs. Untrained individual’s AT would be approximately 55%of their VO2 max, where as an elite endurance athlete may be as high as 80-90% of their VO2 max. As you continuously train at such an intense level your body will become better at processing lactate because of the greater development of aerobic enzymes. Because of the improvements made your level of training must increase to stimulate a response.

Indeed more studies will need to be performed in the future to verify the hypothesis given; however reports thus far have given doctors and scientists hope as to the possibilities of such training. Regardless, high intensity training does produce positive responses to muscle and bone density, along with heart function. If you are interested in high-intensity kettlebell training to help develop your VO2 max I recommend Kenneth Jay’s Viking Warrior Conditioning. This book can be purchased at

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