Exercise not only benefits the body but also the mind, according to new research. The study found that a particular type of exercise is most effective in improving brain health. This exercise can boost memory, organization skills and cognitive abilities. These 5 Workouts Enhance Brain Function and Memory Retention.
Workouts Enhance Brain Function and Memory Retention
New research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health monitored the activity levels of almost 4,500 people in the UK over a week. Participants wore activity monitors on their thighs 24/7 while researchers examined the impact on their cognitive abilities, including short-term memory, problem-solving, and information processing. The study aimed to investigate the link between physical activity and brain function.
Physical activities, including those lasting less than 10 minutes, were found to significantly improve cognitive scores compared to sedentary or gentle activity, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The research tracked nearly 4,500 individuals’ activity levels and cognitive abilities, revealing moderate and vigorous exercises to be most effective in enhancing cognition. Vigorous activities like running, swimming, and dancing, and moderate activities like brisk walking were identified as beneficial for brain health. The study showed that individuals who performed moderate and vigorous exercises experienced improved working memory and executive functions, such as organization and planning. Specifically, these exercises were found to have the most significant impact on cognitive performance, according to the researchers.
A decline in cognitive function of 1% to 2% was observed in individuals who engaged in minimal physical activity, such as sitting or sleeping, compared to those who engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise. The study’s researchers concluded that prioritizing and promoting moderate and vigorous exercise over other behaviours is crucial to maintain and enhance cognitive health.
The study had limitations as it utilized cohort data, and lacking extensive knowledge of participants’ health and cognitive history. The lead author of the study, John Mitchell, a doctoral training student at University College London, suggests that the findings could be a result of the correlation between higher cognition and individuals who move more. However, he also implies that even minor adjustments in daily activity can potentially have positive impacts on cognitive health. Despite the limitations, the research highlights the significance of regular physical activity for cognitive well-being and emphasizes the need to prioritize exercise for the preservation of cognitive function.
Here’s a brief explanation of the connection between exercise and memory and what you should be aware of.
What could be the reason behind exercise improving memory and cognitive abilities?
Numerous studies have shown a correlation between exercise and cognitive enhancement, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledging this on their website. Physical activity can boost memory, problem-solving, and emotional stability, according to the CDC. This particular study further emphasizes the importance of regular exercise for cognitive well-being.
Regular exercise has also been linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia. A 2020 scientific analysis involving 128,925 individuals published in Preventive Medicine demonstrated that inactive adults were almost twice as likely to experience cognitive decline compared to their physically active counterparts. These findings further underscore the significance of exercise for maintaining cognitive health.
While the precise reason behind the link between exercise and cognitive function remains uncertain, according to Ryan Glatt, C.P.T., senior brain health coach and director of the FitBrain Program at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, CA, prior research suggests that varying levels of activity could affect brain blood flow and cognition. Exercising at a higher intensity could promote blood flow to the brain, potentially enhancing cognitive function.
According to Steven K. Malin, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the relationship between exercise and cognitive function may be linked to a range of factors associated with brain development and skeletal muscle. Studies have shown that those who are more aerobically fit tend to have denser brain tissue, which indicates better tissue connectivity and overall health.
According to Steven K. Malin, exercise is believed to activate skeletal muscles that release hormones that communicate with the brain and influence the health and function of neurons. This process could promote the growth and regeneration of brain cells that improve memory and cognition. The CDC advises adults to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.
Exercises that can improve your memory
In order to boost your brain health, the CDC recommends incorporating more exercise into your daily routine by following these tips:
Incorporate bodyweight exercises while working from home and establish a daily walking habit.
Use the stairs
If you own a dog, take them for a walk (research has shown that dog owners walk approximately 22 minutes more each day than non-dog owners).
According to the latest research, vigorous activities are more beneficial for the brain. Although the study did not identify the specific exercises that are best, it highlighted that getting your heart rate up is crucial. Since accelerometers do not provide information on the types of activities individuals engage in, it is difficult to determine which exercises are ideal.
Here are some examples of exercises that can help elevate your heart rate:
• HIIT workouts
• Biking on an incline
Malin suggests incorporating brief physical activities into your daily routine to break up sedentary behaviour. Activities such as jumping jacks, climbing stairs, or doing air squats or push-ups for a minute or two can help replace six to 10 minutes of sedentary time per day. Additionally, taking 10-minute walks can also be beneficial for brain health, according to Malin.