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Movement for Memory

Most people know: hit the gym to improve your heart health, lose weight, and build muscle. These benefits of exercise are true and well-proven. Exercise also seems to have a positive effect on our thinking and our ability to remember.


The Basics

Exercise causes the heart to pump, sending blood and oxygen throughout the body, including the brain. Recent research has shown that the parts of the brain that deal with memory are more active immediately following aerobic exercise, resulting in improved memory. These researchers assume that over time, the brain improves in efficiency and connectivity as a result of exercise.

Other research has shown that the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with memory, actually is a little larger in those who engage in regular aerobic exercise, another possible reason for improved memory. Also, it has been known for years that regular physical activity improves student academic performance, so the belief that it also has a positive effect on adult mental performance is a logical conclusion.


How to get the benefits

To gain the most benefits from exercise, plan on being active at least five times a week for at least 30 minutes. Eat well — ideally, a low-saturated fat, plant-based diet — and drink plenty of water. Add some strength training and flexibility training to your weekly workout for the greatest benefit to your overall health. Be sure, however, to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.