Mild Exercise Improves Memory
People who include a little yoga or tai chi in their day may be more likely to remember where they put their keys. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and Japan’s University of Tsukuba found that even very light workouts can increase the connectivity between parts of the brain responsible for memory formation and storage. Their results were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In a study of 36 healthy young adults, the researchers discovered that a single 10- minute period of mild exertion can yield considerable cognitive benefits. Using high- resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging, the team examined participants’ brains shortly after exercise sessions and saw better connectivity between the hippocampus and cortical areas linked to detailed memory processing.
“The hippocampus is critical for the creation of new memories; it’s one of the first regions of the brain to deteriorate as we get older— and much more severely in Alzheimer’s disease,” said project co- leader Michael Yassa. “Improving the function of the hippocampus holds much promise for improving memory in everyday settings.”
And a little bit of physical activity can go a long way, Yassa stressed. “It’s encouraging to see more people keeping track of their exercise habits by monitoring the number of steps they’re taking, for example,” he said. “Even short walking breaks throughout the day may have considerable effects on improving memory and cognition.”