Did you know that hitting the gym or going for a run or fast walk could actually boost your memory? Recent research suggests that exercise not only improves our physical health but also has a positive impact on our thinking and our ability to remember!
We know that exercise benefits our heart health, helps with weight loss, and builds muscle strength. New studies have shown that exercise can also enhance our memory and cognitive function. How does this happen?
When we exercise, our heart pumps faster, sending oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, including our brain. Researchers have discovered that immediately following aerobic exercise, the parts of the brain responsible for memory show increased activity, resulting in improved memory performance. It is believed that regular exercise over time enhances the brain’s efficiency and connectivity leading to better memory function.
Other research has shown that the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory, actually is a little larger in those who engage in regular aerobic exercise, another possible reason for improved memory. Also, it has been known for years that regular physical activity improves student academic performance, so the belief that it also has a positive effect on adult mental performance is a logical conclusion.
To gain the most benefits from exercise, plan on being active at least five times a week for at least 30 minutes. Eat well — ideally, a low-saturated fat, plant-based diet — and drink plenty of water. Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.