Boost Memory with Activity!
Submitted By: Amy Sercel
Edited by: Marcia Bristow MS RDN CD
You’ve probably heard that physical activity is good for your muscles, bones, and heart, but did you know it’s also good for your brain? While there are different types of physical activity, one of the more beneficial for your memory is aerobic activity. This type of activity increases your heart rate for an extended period of time, pushing blood flow throughout the entire body, which strengthens your heart and lungs. You probably already do many aerobic activities throughout your day; walking, running, swimming, and dancing all fall into this category. Even better, you don’t have to be a professional at any of these activities to reap the mental benefits. Studies have shown that people of all fitness levels performed better on cognitive tests after engaging in aerobic activity.
So, what’s the connection between moving and memory? Aerobic activity increases blood flow throughout your body, including to your brain. This wakes up your brain, allowing you to sort information more quickly. This process also causes your hippocampus, or the memory center of your brain, to grow. As a whole, aerobic activity helps by increasing your brain’s memory-storage space and allowing you to access those memories more quickly.
You don’t have to be active for long periods of time to get these benefits – even short bouts of aerobic activity have been shown to improve brain function. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, but you could break it up into three ten-minute blocks to fit it into your daily routine. For example, when walking from one place to another, try taking the long way. You can also walk to the mailbox after you’ve parked your car or go shopping in person instead of online. This way, you’ll be up and moving around rather than sitting in your car or in front of your computer. Whatever strategies you use, you’ll definitely see the memory-boosting powers of aerobic activity once it becomes a daily habit!