Even Ten Minutes of Light Exercise Can Boost Your Memory
If you are a person who is constantly forgetting something — keys, names, phones — there’s good news: 10 minutes of exercise gives a boost to your memory. Aside from helping you remember to wish people happy birthday (on the right day — always important), researchers say their findings could help people prevent cognitive decline in their later years.
“Even short walking breaks throughout the day may have considerable effects on improving memory and cognition,” says co-leader of the study, Michael Yassa, a professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California, Irvine, US.
Previous research has shown that exercise leads the brain to generate new brain cells in the memory region, but this study demonstrated that there is a more instantaneous result – a boost in connectivity and communication between the memory regions of the brain.
“We don’t discount the possibility that new cells are being born, but that’s a process that takes a bit longer to unfold,” Yassa says. “What we observed is that these 10-minute periods of exercise showed results immediately afterward.”
The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was small, only engaging 36 healthy young adults who performed 10 minutes of light physical activity. Participants also underwent high-resolution imaging to examine changes in activity in the areas of their brain responsible for memory, specifically the hippocampus.
“The hippocampus is critical for the creation of new memories; it’s one of the first regions of the brain to deteriorate as we get older – and much more severely in Alzheimer’s disease,” Yassa says. “Improving the function of the hippocampus holds much promise for improving memory in everyday settings.”