I’m sure you know exercising is good for you, but did you know that you can actually improve your memory with cardio exercise? If you have ever searched for exercising plans (who didn’t at least once?), you encountered the terms cardio or aerobic exercise.
What is Aerobic Exercise?
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, are physical exercises of low to medium intensity, that raise your heart rate to at least 50% of its maximum rate and are sustained by aerobic metabolism. The last part means that the body will use oxygen to convert carbohydrates into energy. If the exercises are too intense (like sprinting for example), the body will start to break down glucose without oxygen, because the oxygen supply is not enough to provide the needed amount of energy. Such activities are called anaerobic and are not the focus of this article.
Aerobic exercise usually involves large groups of muscles that are flexed at low intervals and over extended periods of time. The best examples of aerobic exercise are:
There are many others (rope jumping or stair climbing for example), but I wanted to keep the list short and focused on the most commonly practiced ones.
Can You Actually Improve Your Memory with Aerobic Exercise?
There were multiple studies on rats showing that running on a wheel improves memory and overall brain function, but newer studies show that aerobic exercise help improve memory also for humans. A group of scientists from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, conducted a series of experiments in order to determine the impact of exercise on memory, especially on pattern separation (“which is the ability to discriminate among similar experiences, a fundamental component of episodic memory”).
Dr. Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University has been studying the brain’s ability to form and store long-term memories for many years. She has recently started to research the effects of aerobic exercise on learning and memory. You can watch her TED Talk here:
Aerobic Exercise and Brain Health
Aerobic exercise will increase the blood flow in your brain and will stimulate neurogenesis. They are a great tool to fight against degenerative diseases, and by that, I don’t mean they will help you cure dementia (or Alzheimer’s Disease) or even completely stop its evolution, but that they will delay it, slow its evolution, and keep your brain healthy as much as possible.
How long should you exercise throughout the week? The Department of Health and Human Services recommendation: “at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.” To sum it up, 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week would be the minimum recommended duration.
They say that “sitting is the new smoking”, as being sedentary brings a whole array of health issues. We have evolved to stand, walk, and run over a very long period of time, and modern society got us to couch potatoes in just a few decades. Many of us work at desks, in front of computers for many hours every day, sitting, and that has a toll on our health. Physical exercise is known to improve our health and mood. New studies have shown that our brains, especially the memory forming functions, benefit a lot from regular cardio exercise. We need to make the effort and include cardio exercise in our daily routine, for healthier brain, mind, and body.
Originally published at https://biohackersbase.com on June 11, 2020.