How Exercise Improves Your Memory

Exercise makes you thinner and does all sorts
of other stuff. But who cares about that because it makes
your brain stronger too! Hey guys, Trace here for DNews. We all know that exercise is good for us. Getting off the couch and onto the treadmill
strengthens our muscles, increases blood flow, gives us energy and, of course, burns fat,
so that we can ACTUALLY fit into those skinny jeans. For most people, this is more than enough
incentive to hit the gym. But, for some of us, particularly those stay-home-and-read
types, those of us who are less sporty, health and fitness alone just isn’t enough reason
to slap on the spandex. But here’s another benefit: exercise could
also strengthen your Brain – particularly your memory! A new study out of Radboud University in the
Netherlands gathered three groups of random participants and asked each to look at the
same set of images. The first group did a somewhat-strenuous,
35-minute workout immediately after. The second group did the same exercise four
hours later, and the third didn’t exercise at all (yay control!) Two days later, all the participants retook
the image test, and those in the second group who had a four-hour delay were able to recall
the the most images. This suggests that regular exercise may improve
long-term memory, that is, the ability the recall anything from more than just a few
minutes ago. The catch? The exercise must happen around the time the
memory is formed. According to researchers, this is because
when you work out, your Brain releases neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline that help
your Brain consolidate memories. If these chemicals are absent when your Brain
absorbs information, that information is thought to decay more rapidly. This suggests that regular exercise may improve
long-term memory, that is, the ability the recall anything from more than just a few
minutes ago. But here’s where things get tricky. The participants in that first group (who
worked-out immediately after the test) recalled about the same number of images as those who
didn’t work-out at all. This means that your ability to remember things
depends not just on IF you work out but WHEN you work out. That is, a short delay between the moment
your Brain logs the information and when you get on the treadmill could be crucial to your
ability to recall that information. Of course, more research is needed, so scientists
can’t yet say for sure whether delayed exercise leads to better memory. But, when it comes to exercise as a direct
cause of increased cognitive ability, scientists are pretty much in agreement that it does! This is because exercise releases hormones
that reduce inflammation and insulin resistance, as well as stimulating the growth of cells
and blood vessels in your Brain, making it, in a sense, stronger. Some studies have even suggested that the
parts of the Brain that control your memory – the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal
cortex – are larger in people who regularly exercise. The best part about it? You can just be same old lazy you, apart from
just two hours of moderate exercise a week. Two hours a week! That could mean walking your dog for a half-hour
every other day, riding your bike to work, or playing 18-holes on the weekend. Harvard researchers even count household activities,
like raking leaves or “intense floor mopping”. Seriously. That’s a quote. Basically, as long as you break out in a light
sweat – it’s exercise! And the key to unlocking these benefits – at
least in a long-term sense – is regularity. To do that, fitness-experts recommend group
fitness classes or personal trainers, because you’re more likely to follow an exercise
regime that is scheduled. When exercise becomes routine, your memory
strengthens, and soon enough, “forgetting to workout” will no longer be a viable excuse. You know what’s not exercise? Sex. Sorry, every human ever. If you want to know why, check out this video

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