Can exercise improve memory?
Yes, it can, according to studies done by scientists. They found out that our heart rate increases when we perform physical activities. When this happens, oxygen is pumped into our hippocampus. It’s the part of the brain which is associated with memory and learning. At the same time, a brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is released and stimulates the growth of new neurons.
It’s a process that is repeated over and over from birth to old age. I think this explains why younger people have better memory. They are more active and energetic. Observe how children play – they run, jump, and twist like crazy. Hmm, I guess we should really exercise more!
The above study is just one proof on this topic. There are more.
- Exercise fights stress. This is explained by the replenishment of neurotransmitters which are depleted by anxiety and depression. Exercise helps refill the brain with these chemical substances.
- Exercise improves the ability to shift and focus attention. This is the effect when blood gets flowing into your system during exercise.
- Longer and more regular exercise diminishes the chances of suffering from dementia as you age. This is due to the formation of healthy young hippocampal cells as you exercise over the years. The same is one of the greatest long-term advantages of exercise on the brain.
According to Professor Suzuki, the immediate and long-term benefits of exercise on the brain have even bigger connotations. She envisions better education, better productivity among workers and prevention of cognitive decline, if people will stay active.
If schools around the world would embrace the idea that exercise has the ability to cheer up students’ mood, alleviate stress and improve attention span and memory, not only will the learners better grasp their lessons, be it Mathematics or Arts, they would be happier, too. Not only will workers be healthier and stress-free, they will be more productive too.
For countries with considerable aging populations, they will minimize incapacitating cognitive decline and save billions of dollars.
What course of action then should people take?
- That exercise must be a regular part of your daily schedule, young or old. It is never too late to start. Even those in their 60’s can improve their memory through exercise.
- To walk more everyday and avoid staying seated all day.
- That in addition to your regular exercise, take 7 thousand to 10 thousand steps per day.
The age of digital technology has grabbed the attention of a majority of today’s society. Much time is spent on browsing the internet or playing a variety of games on latest gadgets, be it to enrich one’s knowledge to make life better or simply for pleasure.
Everyone should take action, get up and go, have oxygen pumped into those hippocampi. Having been enlightened on the amazing effects of exercise on improving memory, not to mention the bigger picture of achieving a better world, what else would hinder anyone from being active from this on?