From this study, Effects of aerobic exercise on mild cognitive impairment: a controlled trial this quote:
“Six months of high-intensity aerobic exercise had sex-specific effects on cognition… aerobic exercise improved performance on multiple tests of executive function, increased glucose disposal during the metabolic clamp, and reduced fasting plasma levels of insulin, cortisol, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor.”
The sixteen men in the study did not achieve the same positive cognitive results. They postulated that the difference was possibly because the body's use of and production of cortisol, insulin, and glucose differed in women and men. Regardless, the long list of positive changes resulting for high intensity exercise makes it worth the investment of one’s time.
All participants exercised at 75% to 85% of heart rate reserve and mean age of the group was 70 years old with the oldest being 85. At Austin Personal Training and at New Orleans Fitness Trainers we work with people of all ages in a high intensity fashion. High intensity varies by individual depending on their level of fitness. For those who are older the bar need not be that high to achieve high intensity exercise. To produce change you need to expose the body to more that it is used to handling.
We follow a simple protocol: Safely expose the body to more exercise than it is used to handling (longer duration, a greater distance, a quicker pace, or more weight lifted). Allow enough time for recovery and rebuilding. The body will then make a positive adaptation as an act of self-protection. When done correctly the human body is the only engine that improves with use rather than wearing down.