APR 21, 2022 9:00 AM PDT

Physical Activity Improves Memory Function

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

Exercise has a wealth of benefits for the mind and body, and a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has suggested that even short bouts of mild exercise may immediately improve memory function.

In the study, 36 health young adults participated in two experiments linking physical exercise to memory. In both experiments, the participants completed 10 minutes of mild exercise on a recumbent bicycle, or, in the control condition, sat on a stationary bicycle for 10 minutes without pedaling (all participants completed both the experimental and the control conditions on different days in a random order).

In the first experiment, 20 participants completed a memory task involving seeing and then recalling items after they finished exercising. In the second experiment, the other 16 participants completed the same task; however, immediately after they finished exercising, MRI scans of their brain activity were taken.

In both experimental conditions, participants who had exercised performed better on the memory task. In addition, the MRI scans of the exercising participants showed better connectivity in the regions of the brain related to detailed memory processing. On an individual level, higher connectivity on the MRI scans predicted better performance on the recall task.

Previous research has often focused on how exercise promotes the growth of new brain cells, but this experiment showed an immediate benefit of exercise related to memory and connectivity in the brain. One striking aspect of this experiment was that the exercise was very light and only lasted for 10 minutes. As previously reported, 10 minutes per day of exercise can also positively impact heart health and overall longevity. Taking relatively short breaks throughout the day to walk or do some light yoga will likely benefit your heart, brain, and overall health.

Sources: PNAS, Science Daily, Labroots

 
About the Author
PhD in Biophysics
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She recieved her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and her B.S. from the University of Oklahoma.
You May Also Like
FEB 19, 2022
Health & Medicine
The Search for Genetic Links in Sudden Unexplained Child Deaths
FEB 19, 2022
The Search for Genetic Links in Sudden Unexplained Child Deaths
Sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC), similar to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), occurs when children betwe ...
MAR 03, 2022
Cardiology
Daily Aspirin and Heart Disease
MAR 03, 2022
Daily Aspirin and Heart Disease
The guidance on taking daily aspirin to prevent heart disease has changed for some populations.
MAR 03, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Blood Pressure Drug Increases Natural Insulin Production in Type 1 Diabetes
MAR 03, 2022
Blood Pressure Drug Increases Natural Insulin Production in Type 1 Diabetes
Individuals with type 1 diabetes who take blood pressure medication verapamil require less insulin on a daily basis. The ...
MAY 09, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
COVID-19 Vaccine Technique Guiding Heart Disease Research
MAY 09, 2022
COVID-19 Vaccine Technique Guiding Heart Disease Research
The heart is made up in part of cardiomyocytes, specialized cells responsible for controlling heart beats. After a heart ...
MAY 25, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
Deadly Heart Arrhythmia Linked to Air Pollution May be Avoidable
MAY 25, 2022
Deadly Heart Arrhythmia Linked to Air Pollution May be Avoidable
Doctors at the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna, Italy noticed that on days with high levels of air pollution, clusters of p ...
JUN 19, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Math Model Predicts Anti-inflammatory Drug Efficacy Post-heart Attack
JUN 19, 2022
Math Model Predicts Anti-inflammatory Drug Efficacy Post-heart Attack
Researchers created a mathematical model that can predict drug combinations that may one day help treat heart attacks. T ...
Loading Comments...