University of Pittsburgh Proves Exercise Equals Better Memory

University of Pittsburgh Proves Exercise Equals Better Memory

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Most people know that regular physical activity is beneficial to their physical health. However, it offers more benefits than you might realize because it promotes better memory and cognition.

Regular physical activity improves cognitive health, helping you think clearly, learn, problem-solve, and find emotional balance. You’ll quickly find that it promotes better memory, making life a little easier and more enjoyable.

Any amount of regular activity can help you reap these benefits, no matter your age or fitness level. However, adults should get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week for best results. If you break it down, it becomes 30 minutes of exercise each day for five days a week.

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How Exercise Means Better Memory

It’s easier to understand why exercise leads to better memory if you know what happens to your body. Your heart rate increases when you exercise, increasing the blood flow to your brain, too. Increased blood flow means that your brain receives more oxygen and nutrients to keep it healthy.

Regular exercise also triggers the release of proteins in your brain, nourishing the neurons. Neurons are the building blocks of the brain, so they’re essential to brain health. From there, more neurons grow, promoting cognitive health and better memory.

Exercise also boosts your mood and reduces stress, allowing your brain to be free of thoughts that might overwhelm your mind. When you can think clearly, you’ll experience better memory.  You’ll also sleep better with less stress, improving overall brain function.

What the Research Shows

Research from psychologists at the University of Pittsburgh used information from many studies to determine how exercise improves memory. The results showed that adults can prevent memory declines by doing regular exercise. Psychologists also found that exercising regularly for four months allows the benefits of episodic memory to kick in.

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Episodic memory is about remembering events from the past, and it’s usually the first to decline as a person ages. One example is memories like where they were and who they were with during milestones. Moderately intense exercises increase brain health and promote the retention of episodic memories.

The research showed that those between 55 and 68 had better results regarding improving memory with exercise. This information implies that it’s best to intervene early and start exercising daily as soon as you know that you should. Those between 69 and 85 also experienced benefits, but they weren’t as great as the younger group.

Other studies show that cognitive decline is more common in inactive adults. Inactivity also increases the risk of dementia later on in life, further hindering a person’s ability to remember things.

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Children Also Experience Better Memory from Regular Exercise

While the previously mentioned studies involved adults, it’s important to note that children also experience cognitive benefits from regular exercise. However, children require more physical activity than adults, with experts suggesting at least one hour each day.

Improved memory allows children to do better in school because they remember things better. It gives them a chance to clear their mind and let out some tension, giving them a good starting point for remembering things. Regular exercise also promotes concentration, further benefiting a child’s cognitive function.

How to Use Daily Activities as Exercise for Better Memory

Being active doesn’t require intense or complicated workout routines or signing up for a gym membership. You can exercise on your terms, doing things you enjoy every day. If you aren’t sure where to start, think about the activities you do every day that you can add physical activity to.

Playing Sports for Better Memory

Playing sports is beneficial for kids, but adults can participate, too. If you enjoy a sport and there’s a local team in your area, find out how you can sign up. Not only will the exercise improve your memory, but being on a team also has other benefits. Team sports build self-confidence and offer consistent schedules and routines.

Turn On Music and Start Dancing

Dancing works many muscles in your body, but it doesn’t feel like exercise. You’ll have fun listening to your favorite songs and dancing around your house, twisting and turning as you go along. If you like to go out, find a few friends to go out dancing with instead.

Exercise While Watching Your Favorite Show

If you exercise while watching something you like, it’ll feel like a treat. You can do many activities in front of the TV, including squats or marching in place.

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For Better Memory, Go For a Walk

Walking is an enjoyable way to increase your level of physical activity. Go for walks in your neighborhood, switching up the route whenever you get bored. You can also walk at local parks or go for a hike.

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If you don’t always have the time to go for long walks, you can add more walking into your daily routine. Start by parking your car at the back of a parking lot instead of looking for the closest place. Small changes in your day can make a difference in increasing your physical activity.

Take Your Dog for a Walk and Enjoy Better Memory

Your dog needs exercise, too, so utilize the time wisely and take your pet for a walk. Studies show that people with dogs walk more than others each day. Your dog can help you stay active, and they make great walking companions.

Do Some Yard Work

You have to do the yard work anyway, so make sure you count it into your exercise time. Raking, bagging leaves, pushing a lawnmower, and gardening are all beneficial ways to be active.

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Six Workouts for Better Memory

If you want to implement some intentional exercises into your daily routine, you’ll find many that help with brain health. A few helpful exercises to start with include:

1 – Squats

Squats are a great way to exercise while watching your favorite show or need to squeeze in a few minutes of activity. They are ways to alleviate brain fog and improve cognitive function.

To start, stand with your feet pointing straight and set shoulder-width apart. Lower your body while breathing in, and breathe out as you stand back up. Studies show that squats are a powerful way to improve memory and cognitive skills.

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2 – Planks

This exercise offers a full-body workout while also improving your mental clarity. It increases brainpower, relieves stress, and helps clear your mind. You can do planks while you meditate, watch tv, or during any other stationary activity.

Start by lying on your stomach, and then use your toes and forearms to raise your body. Keep your body in a straight line with your back flat and your abs tucked in. Make sure your legs extend behind you and keep your head and neck even with the rest of your body.

3 – Jumping Jacks

While jumping jacks are often a warm-up, they also get your blood pumping hard and fast. With your blood pumping, your brain receives more oxygen and nutrients. It boosts your brainpower, allowing it to function better without wearing down.

Stand straight with your hands by your side and feet together. Then, raise your arms above your head while jumping and putting your feet out to the sides. Without stopping, bring your arms and feet back to the starting position. Keep doing the motion without stopping for as long as you can, ideally at least ten minutes.

4 – Yoga for Better Memory

Yoga offers many benefits, including better memory and cognitive function. It works your brain in multiple ways because it involves meditation and exercise. Yoga boosts brain cells and enhances memory as it energizes your mind. Plus, it decreases mental stress and anxiety, allowing you to think with a clear mind.

There are yoga poses for every level of expertise, so don’t worry if you’re a beginner. You can utilize the benefits right away, learning more about the exercise as you go along. Before you know it, you’ll become better and feel ready for some of the more advanced poses.

Yoga offers a few options, too, so you can do it alone or with a group. If you want to do it alone, you can use technology as a guide or take private classes. You can likely find group classes in your area if you prefer to do it in-person and with other participants.

5 – Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a gentle exercise that involves moving while meditating. It promotes brain activity, reduces stress, and improves memory. When you do Tai Chi, you will move from one pose to the next without stopping.

6 – Weight Training and Resistance Exercises

Lighting weights and doing resistance exercises improve memory and reasoning in people. It increases brain power, especially in those over 50 or people with mild cognitive impairment. These exercises improve brain capacity, alertness, and attention, all essential aspects that affect memory.

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Final Thoughts on University of Pittsburgh Proves Exercise Means Better Memory

Physical activity is essential to living a healthy lifestyle. It’s good for your physical health, but it’s also beneficial for your brain. You’ll experience better memory once you implement a regular exercise routine into your life.

If you don’t want to start a workout routine, you can implement physical activity into your daily life. There are many options for being active while doing things you enjoy.

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Sarah Barkley is a lifestyle blogger and freelance writer with a Bachelor's Degree in Literature from Baker College. She is experienced in all things related to parenting, marriage, and life as a millennial parent, but loves to learn new things. She enjoys the research that goes into a strong article, and no topic is off-limits to Sarah. When she isn't writing, she is immersed in a book or watching Gilmore Girls. Sarah loves reading classic novels but also enjoys a good thriller.

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