Can Regular Exercise Improve Your Memory? Being physically active has numerous health benefits. We know regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. But exercise also affects the mind. It reduces depression and anxiety, and now, research indicates it boosts memory function.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia discovered that by regularly completing high-intensity aerobic exercise, enough to get you sweating and out of breath, we enlarge our hippocampus (the part of the brain that dictates memory and learning).
The findings correlate with similar research findings at McMaster University. Researchers there studied the effects of intense exercise on young adults. They found that over a period of six weeks, participants that regular undertook high-intensity workouts showed significant signs of improvement in their high-interference memory (the memory we use to remember faces and individual visual patterns).
These findings could indicate that regular aerobic exercise can reduce the likelihood of Alzheimer’s and dementia, among other memory-related diseases.
Neurologists believe that the link between regular exercise and improved memory function could lie in the strength of our synapses. Our synapses connect each neuron in the brain and are essentially our brain’s instant messaging system. When a piece of information or a chemical signal is relayed across the brain, it fires across synapses. If these are weaker, the message could be delayed or lost.
Scientists have known for some time that alcohol, sleep deprivation, stress, and a poor diet can weaken our synapses. But until now it wasn’t apparent that regular exercise could strengthen them.
Researchers in Utah found that exercise is particularly useful when handling stress. Research at Brigham Young University studied the memory function in mice when responding to stress. They compared a group of mice that ran on a wheel regularly for long periods of time, with a control group of sedentary mice, and subjected them to three days of chronic stress.
After the three days, they looked at the mice’s synapses under a microscope. In the sedentary animals, it was clear the stress had caused a dramatic reduction in the effectiveness of the synapses. The animals that had an active lifestyle showed healthy synapses that resembled those of an unstressed control group.
Behaviourally, the mice were also able to learn and remember the location of several treats in a maze much faster than the sedentary mice.
The astounding findings have prompted sports nutrition companies to compile effective nutrition and exercise packages designed to improve mental function and memory processes. KetoLogic’s 30-day challenge for better mental focus is one such program which helps people lose weight, sleep better, and improve cognitive function.
How Much Exercise?
To unlock the benefits of regular exercise, studies indicate that as little as 10 minutes of physical exercise each day can significantly boost brain and memory performance.
To begin improving memory storage and recall functions, you can carry out 10 minutes of light cardio, such as a brisk walk or light jog each day.
Living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise is not just for the body. The effects of exercise on the mind are only just beginning to be understood, but the results are conclusive. Making time for regular exercise should be a priority for anyone committed to keeping a strong and healthy mind.
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