Mild Physical Activity Immediately Improves Memory Function

Forgot where you put that $100 cheque your grandmother gave you for your birthday? Do some yoga, or take a 20-30 minute walk.

  • Link found between mild exercise and positive memory function
    Link found between mild exercise and positive memory function

Sure, going to the gym or doing some exercise is good for your health, but research from the University of California, Irvine, and Japan's University of Tsukuba found that even a light workout can increase connections between parts of the brain that handle memory formation and storage.

Researchers discovered that a mild 10-minute workout can have very positive cognitive benefits by studying the brains of 36 young participants, taking MRI images after their workout sessions. After the workouts, they saw better connectivity between areas of the brain 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, UCI professor and Chancellor's Fellow of neurobiology & behavior. "Improving the function of the hippocampus holds much promise for improving memory in everyday settings."

Yassa didn't discount the possibility that new cells are being born, but this is a process that takes longer to unfold, and what they saw in the study were immediate results following 10-minute periods of exercise.

He and his colleagues at the University of California at Irvine and at the University of Tsukuba will extend their research by testing older adults. This can pave the way toward a greater understanding of age-related cognitive impairment, and see if a positive mental impact can also be achieved through exercise in the elderly.