Practice hatha yoga consistently for eight weeks and you're likely to think faster and better remember things. Stretch and do toning exercises and your brain functioning is likely to stay the same, according to a new eight-week study of more than 100 adults with ages ranging from 55 to 79.
"Participants in the yoga intervention group showed significant improvements in working memory capacity, which involves continually updating and manipulating information," said Edward McAuley, a professor at the University of Illinois and co-author of the study, in a statement. "They were also able to perform the task at hand quickly and accurately, without getting distracted. These mental functions are relevant to our everyday functioning, as we multitask and plan our day-to-day activities."
Controlling for other factors like age and gender, the study concluded that practicing yoga did lead to the improved brain functioning. Hatha yoga requires focus and meditation, which may have caused improved brain functioning in other tasks, according to study co-author and University of Illinois researcher Neha Gothe.
Still, researchers called for additional, longer-term studies to understand the brain mechanism fully.