New study discovers the best brain exercises for memory

  • Research has found that exercise can have a positive effect on your memory and brain health.
  • A new study has linked vigorous exercise with improved memory, planning and organization.
  • Data shows that just 10 minutes a day can make a huge impact.

Experts have known for years about the physical benefits of exercise, but research is ongoing on how exercise affects your brain. Now, a new study has revealed the best exercise for brain health—and it can help sharpen everything from your memory to your ability to organize.

The study published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, data tracking nearly 4,500 people in the UK who have activity monitors strapped to their thighs 24 hours a day over the course of a week. The researchers analyzed how their activity levels affected their short-term memory, problem-solving skills, and ability to process objects.

The study found that moderate and vigorous exercise and activities — even those performed in less than 10 minutes — were associated with significantly higher cognitive outcomes than people who spent most of their time sitting, sleeping, or doing gentle activities. (energizing exercises It generally includes things like running, swimming, downhill biking, and dancing; moderate exercise That includes brisk walking and anything that makes your heart beat faster.)

Specifically, researchers found that people who did these exercises had better working memory (the small amount of information that can be held in your mind and used in carrying out cognitive tasks) The greatest impact was on executive processes such as planning and organizing.

On the flip side: People who spent more time sleeping, sitting, or moving around less than doing moderate to vigorous exercise had a cognitive decline of 1% to 2%.

“Efforts should be made to maintain time for moderate and vigorous physical activity, or to enhance it in lieu of other behaviours,” the researchers wrote in conclusion.

But the study wasn’t perfect — it used previously collected cohort data, so the researchers didn’t know comprehensive details about the participants’ health or their long-term cognitive health. The findings “may simply be that those individuals who move more tend to have higher cognition on average,” says lead study author John Mitchell, a PhD student at University College London’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health. But, he adds, the results could also indicate “that even subtle changes in our daily lives can have negative consequences for our cognition.”

So why might there be a link between exercise and a good memory? Here’s what you need to know.

Why might exercise sharpen your memory and thinking?

This isn’t the first study to find a link between exercise and improved cognition. Actually, it is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Online (CDC) specifically states that physical activity can help improve your cognitive health, improve memory, emotional balance, and problem-solving.

Regular exercise can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. One scientific analysis of 128,925 people is published in the journal Protective medicine In 2020, it was found that cognitive decline is twice as likely in inactive adults as it is in their more active counterparts.

But the “why” behind it all is “not entirely clear,” he says Ryan Glatt, CPT, Senior Brain Health Coach and Director of the FitBrain Program at Pacific Neurosciences Institute in Santa Monica, California. However, Glatt says, previous research suggests that “it is possible that different levels of activity can affect brain blood flow and cognition.” Meaning, exercising with a harder section can stimulate blood flow to your brain and enhance your ability to think well in the process.

Malin, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers College of Medicine Robert Wood Johnson: “It can be related to a variety of factors related to brain and skeletal muscle development.” “Often, studies show that the more physically fit individuals are, the denser the brain tissue, which indicates better tissue connectivity and health.”

Exercise also activates skeletal muscles (the muscles that connect to your bones) that are thought to release hormones that communicate with your brain to affect the health and function of neurons, the cells that act as messengers of information, Malin says. “This, in turn, can promote the growth and regeneration of brain cells that aid in memory and cognition,” he says.

Currently, the CDC recommend Most adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.

The best exercises for your memory

In general, the CDC suggests doing the following to squeeze more exercise into your life to improve your brain health:

  • dance
  • Practice squatting or walking in place while watching TV
  • Start a walking routine
  • Use the stairs
  • Walk your dog, if you have one (one study found that dog owners walk, on average, 22 minutes more each day than people who don’t own dogs)

However, the latest study suggests that more vigorous activities are really better for your brain. The study didn’t specify which exercises, in particular, are best—”When wearing an accelerometer, we don’t know what kinds of activities individuals are doing,” Glatt points out. However, getting your heart rate up is key.

This could include doing exercises such as:

Malin’s tip: “Take breaks from sitting throughout the day by doing a ‘snacking’ activity.” This could mean doing a minute or two of jumping jacks, walking up stairs at a brisk pace, or doing air squats or push-ups to try to replace about six to 10. minutes of sedentary behavior per day. “Alternatively, trying to get in for 10 minutes might go a long way,” he says.

Shot in the head by Corinne Miller

Corinne Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, sexual and relationship health, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamor, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives on the beach, and hopes to own a cup of tea and a taco truck one day.

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