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Many people dread “cardio days” when hitting the gym. The thought of plodding away on a treadmill or spinning tirelessly on the bike seems exhausting. Now though, research out of the Mayo Clinic may have you thinking twice before you skip your next cardio day.

Cardiorespiratory activities are physical exercises that raise one’s heart rate. Researchers measured the oxygen levels of over 2,000 adults who performed physical exercise. The group that performed more rigorous cardiovascular was found to reach peak oxygen intake.

When the researchers cross referenced these peak oxygen levels with MRI scans, they found that cardiorespiratory activities that increased heart-rate led to a larger volume of gray matter in the brain. This gray matter is important for cognitive health. Individuals with a dementia typically have lower levels of gray matter in their brains.

While just going for a casual walk won’t achieve the results of cardiorespiratory exercise, it is still possible to achieve the benefits associated with peak oxygen levels and increased gray matter volume. Consider finding cardiovascular activities you enjoy, whether that’s a brisk morning walk, a bike ride, dance class, swimming laps, etc.

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/specific-exercises-linked-to-brain-health-and-cognitive-performance-02604982/