How to live longer: The exercise shown to ‘immediately improve’ memory – new study finding

Expert explains why enjoying exercise is important

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Brief periods of daily light exercise have been found to be beneficial for memory functions. Research indicates that even very light workouts could enhance the functioning of certain parts of the brain. These parts are responsible for memory formation and storage. Thus, exercise has the potential to improve brain function and general health, which could help live a longer life.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Tsukuba in Japan.

Researchers worked with 36 young adults in good health.

They used MRI scans to assess the immediate impact of a short amount of mild exercise on the brain mechanisms supporting memory processes.

Findings indicated that a single 10-minute mild activity had several cognitive benefits on participants.

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The study found that short and light exercise “rapidly enhanced highly detailed memory processing and resulted in elevated activity in the hippocampus and the surrounding regions”.

It also observed an increased and more efficient communication between the hippocampus and cortical regions.

These are known to support detailed memory processing.

The intensity of the exercise did not go over 30 percent of peak oxygen uptake.

“The hippocampus is critical for the creation of new memories,” commented Professor Michael Yassa.

“It’s one of the first regions of the brain to deteriorate as we get older – and much more severely in Alzheimer’s disease.“

He went on to say that improving the hippocampus’ function could improve memory in everyday settings.

Researchers also suggested that future studies should focus on the long-term effects of regular mild exercise on age-related memory loss.

Professor Yassa stressed that a little physical activity could go a long way.

”Even short walking breaks throughout the day may have considerable effects on improving memory and cognition,” he said.

Even practising 10 minutes of yoga or tai chi every day could improve memory processes.

Researchers have also been testing older adults to see if light exercise could work to reduce the risk of mental impairment.

“There is tremendous value to understanding the exercise prescription that best works in the elderly,” said Professor Yassa.

Future research aims to come up with “recommendations for staving off cognitive decline”, he concluded.

Aside from walking and yoga, other examples of light exercise include playing pool, fishing, and croquet.

Another way to include 10 minutes of easy exercise in the daily routine could be doing light housework, such as cooking, ironing, dusting and washing dishes.

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