Short spurt of ex­er­cise might boost your mem­ory

Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is a valu­able part of any over­all body well­ness plan and is as­so­ci­ated with a lower risk of cog­ni­tive de­cline.

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Front Page -

JUST a short spurt of ex­er­cise can im­me­di­ately im­prove a per­son’s mem­ory, new Ja­panese re­search sug­gests. How lit­tle? The small study in­volved 36 healthy col­lege-aged men and women and found that just 10 min­utes of re­laxed cy­cling on a sta­tion­ary bike was all it took to im­prove re­call dur­ing mem­ory test­ing con­ducted right af­ter­wards. Why? Brain scans on 16 of the par­tic­i­pants in­di­cated that short bouts of mild ex­er­cise ap­peared to trig­ger an in­stant uptick in com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the hip­pocam­pal den­tate gyrus and the cor­ti­cal brain re­gions. Both brain ar­eas are key to pro­cess­ing mem­ory. Study au­thor Hideaki Soya de­scribed the find­ings as “strik­ing ev­i­dence” of how a “very light (ex­er­cise) pro­to­col in­deed has ben­e­fi­cial ef­fects on brains and cog­ni­tion.” He is chair of the Ad­vanced Re­search Ini­tia­tive for Hu­man High Per­for­mance at the Univer­sity of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Ja­pan. Soya also said the re­sults are “good news for peo­ple who do not like to ex­er­cise,” in­clud­ing those in poor phys­i­cal health or older folks. Soya stressed that his team’s ear­lier re­search sug­gests that mild ex­er­cise seems to pro­duce broad re­sults, “not only with the young, but also with the el­derly.” But just how long might the mem­ory af­fect linger? Soya said it’s too soon to say for sure. “But at this time,” he added, “we can say that the ex­er­cise ef­fect lasts at least 15 min­utes af­ter 10 min­utes of ex­er­cise.” Soya and his col­leagues re­port their find­ings in the Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Science. In the study, all par­tic­i­pants ran­domly un­der­went mem­ory test­ing twice, once af­ter com­plet­ing 10 min­utes on a sta­tion­ary bike and once af­ter no ex­er­cise of any kind. Mem­ory test­ing be­gan within five min­utes fol­low­ing the ex­er­cise/no ex­er­cise task. Test­ing ini­tially in­volved show­ing each par­tic­i­pant images of ev­ery­day ob­jects, at which point all were asked to in­di­cate if the ob­ject was typ­i­cally used in­doors or out­doors. In turn, all were then shown a sec­ond round of images and asked to re­call if they had been shown the image be­fore, or if the image was sim­i­lar or en­tirely new. A lit­tle less than half of the group had mem­ory test­ing while also un­der­go­ing high-res­o­lu­tion f-MRI brain scans. In the end, the re­search team found that when par­tic­i­pants en­gaged in a short bout of light ex­er­cise, there was a “rapid en­hance­ment” in their abil­ity to re­call in­for­ma­tion ac­cu­rately. What’s more, the scans sug­gested that the ob­served en­hance­ment seemed to re­flect an in­crease in “func­tional con­nec­tiv­ity” be­tween brain cen­tres crit­i­cal to mem­ory per­for­mance. The more such brain com­mu­ni­ca­tion went up post-ex­er­cise, the more a per­son’s mem­ory skills im­proved, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors said. Heather Sny­der, se­nior di­rec­tor of med­i­cal and sci­en­tific op­er­a­tions with the Alzheimer’s As­so­ci­a­tion, said it re­mains to be seen to how the ex­er­cise-en­hanced “brain plas­tic­ity” Soya’s team ob­served among young adults will ul­ti­mately play out among se­niors. “While there is wide­spread con­sen­sus that phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, even in mod­er­a­tion, is ben­e­fi­cial for brain health, less is known about the spe­cific ben­e­fits or the bi­ol­ogy of how phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity works in our brains,” said Sny­der, who wasn’t in­volved with the re­search. “The cur­rent find­ings are in­trigu­ing, be­cause they sug­gest phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity may im­prove mem­ory,” she ac­knowl­edged. And the AA makes a point of ad­vis­ing se­niors to stay ac­tive, not­ing that “phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is a valu­able part of any over­all body well­ness plan and is as­so­ci­ated with a lower risk of cog­ni­tive de­cline.” Still, Sny­der stressed that “an im­por­tant next step is repli­cat­ing the study in older adults to see if the same re­sults are achieved.”

*All ma­te­ri­als are only for your in­for­ma­tion, and should not be con­strued as med­i­cal ad­vice. Where nec­es­sary, ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sion­als should be con­sulted

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