Five ways to boost your memory

2. Get physically active

If you want your memory to stay sharp, it is important to keep active. Exercise increases oxygen levels in your brain, reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes — which leads to memory loss — decreases levels of stress hormones, and increases the effect of helpful brain chemicals.

seniors in a dance group
Aerobic activity and resistance training may help to boost brain power in people over the age of 50.

Working out also facilitates neuroplasticity of certain structures in the brain, which enhances cognitive function.

In an analysis investigating brain health of the over 50s, researchers found that aerobic activity and resistance training combined boosts brain power. Aerobic activity improved cognitive abilities, while resistance training enhanced memory, working memory, and executive function.

Aerobic exercise in young adults has also been shown to be a predictor of recognition memory.

Particular hormones that increase during exercise, called growth factors, help to improve memory. Growth factors mediate the connection between exercise and brain health via the hippocampus — which is a region of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Incorporating elements of moderate-intensity aerobic and resistance training for at least 45 minutes per session, and on as many days of the week as you can manage, will likely benefit your cognitive abilities and memory.

Research also hints that if you want to remember something you have just learned, you should aim to exercise 4 hours later. Individuals who exercised 4 hours after a learning session were better at retaining information 2 days later than individuals who exercised immediately after learning or not at all.

Exercise does not have to be all running and weights; horse riding has been shown to improve children’s cognitive ability and dancing may reverse signs of brain aging.

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