How to improve Memory: The value of exercise
Do you exercise so that you fit into your favourite pair of jeans?
Do you exercise to improve your physical health?
Or, perhaps, you don’t exercise because you don’t see a need?
If you are not exercising, or even if you are exercising, and need a little more to inspire you to exercise…
Exercise helps your brain to stay healthy.
Can exercise improve your memory?
Yes, exercise can improve your memory. This is true if you are a child, or an adult, of any age.
One of the most practical ways to keep your brain healthy and improve your memory is to exercise. Exercise plays a role in memory formation. In animal studies, learning and memory improved with physical exercise. There are now even studies on the ideal time to exercise, in order to remember better. (This may complicate a very practical way to help your memory though. Would you use it as an excuse not to exercise when you have time?)
Why is exercise important?
Exercise can prevent, or reduce, the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Lifestyle factors may account for 30-50% of all cases of Alzheimer’s disease.
How does exercise help your memory?
Exercise improves plasticity in the hippocampus of your brain. Plasticity is the ability of the brain to grow and adapt as needed. Genes that control plasticity can be switched on or off. Exercise switches this gene on, resulting in a increase in a substance, called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This factor then promotes development of the hippocampus. To learn more on the mechanics of memory, and the hippocampus, read How to improve memory: Part 1 A Brief Understanding of Memory.
It is incredible that you can influence what you inherit, that you can influence how your genes function by simply exercising, isn’t it? You have some control, despite what you inherit. Even if you have genetic risk factors for the late-onset form of the Alzheimer’s disease, exercise helps you to reduce this risk.
And exercise does a lot more than this…
Exercise increases brain volume, which helps your brain to stay healthy.
Exercise decreases the levels of harmful chemicals in your brain thus protecting your memory. These chemical are high in a number of illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Memory, and general brain function, is affected by other illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Exercise reduces your risk of developing these illnesses, and then helps your brain to function better.
Why else is exercise good for you?
Exercise can help improve mood. It has been shown to help people with depression. This is not an alternative to medication, but can be used with medication, or when medication is not necessary. If you exercise, you will improve your mood and reduce your levels of anxiety.
I have always believed that exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela
When is the ideal time to exercise?
When you have time.
How much exercise do you need?
You need to exercise for about two and a half hours a week. How much you exercise depends on the time you have available. If you have ten minutes, exercise for ten minutes. You may think that you have no time, but if you have time for Facebook, or Instagram, or a netflix series- you have time to exercise.
What can you do?
Seriously though, do what you want to do, and what you enjoy doing. Go for a walk, join a gym, or go dancing.
If you can, take a friend whom you enjoy spending time with. Spending time with people you love, helps your memory as well. Consider varying your exercise routine, so that on certain days, you have to learn new information, thus stimulating your brain.
Are you inspired to exercise?
When will you start walking or dancing or hiking?
You can help your brain to stay younger.
You can modify your genes.
You can improve your memory.
Live better. Exercise more.