Exercise May Positively Affect Memory
In fact, studies now show that exercise promotes neurogenesis, which is a process in which your brain can adapt to changes and grow new brain cells. Exercise also promotes cognitive health by regulating insulin resistance and increasing dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, GABA, and glutamine.
Recent studies have shown that high-intensity workouts help improve memory by improving the function of the hippocampus. This finding could be an important prevention strategy for Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most serious form of dementia. Studies have also shown that aerobic exercise increases brain volume, which benefits certain memory functions.
There are a lot of health benefits of high-intensity exercise, and increasing memory is just one more benefit of this activity. These findings might have an impact on the aging population due to their struggle with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have found that doing 6 weeks of high-intensity interval exercise for 20 minutes each session, which is short periods of intense exercise followed by a short break, showed major improvements in high-interference memory, which is the type of memory that allows people to distinguish different objects that are very similar, such as different breeds of dogs.
The interesting thing is, this study was performed on young adults and the results came quickly. This means that it does not take long to improve your memory by increasing your exercise. While some people may believe that it would take months or years, it actually may only take a few weeks to see an improvement.
They also found that people in the study who were able to greatly improve their fitness also experienced larger increases in their brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that helps brain cells grow, function properly, and survive.
These findings may also help explain why there is a previously established link between academic performance and aerobic exercise. Elderly people can even expect to see greater benefits with their memory impairment that is brought on by aging conditions like dementia.
Ninety-five participants participated in this study and were split into three groups. Some completed six weeks of exercise training that was also combined with cognitive training, some did exercise with no cognitive training, and the control group did neither exercise nor cognitive training and the remained sedentary. Findings showed that both the exercise group and the combined exercise and cognitive training groups improved their performance on a high-interference memory task, however, the control group did not.
Researchers looked at the changes in aerobic fitness and neurotrophic factors and memory before and after the study. Results show that there is potential for exercise and cognitive training to change and improve memory, and shows that the two of these together can work alongside each other through complementary pathways of the brain to increase one’s high-interference memory.
Researchers have started to study elderly adults to see if they will have the same positive results as the younger adults with the combination of physical exercise and cognitive training.
Because this kind of memory tends to decline with age, one hypothesis is that there will be greater benefits for elderly adults. However, it is not known if the decline of neurotrophic factors with age may have an impact on the synergistic effects of exercise and memory.