New Study Finds the Best Brain Exercises to Boost Memory Research has found exercise can have a positive impact on your memory and brain health.
A new study linked vigorous exercise to improved memory, planning, and organization.
Data suggests just 10 minutes a day can have a big impact.
Experts have known for years about the physical benefits of exercise, but research has been ongoing into how working out can impact your mind. Now, a new study reveals the best exercise for brain health—and it can help sharpen everything from your memory to your ability to get organized.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health , tracked data from nearly 4,500 people in the UK who had activity monitors strapped to their thighs for 24 hours a day over the course of a week. Researchers analyzed how their activity levels impacted their short-term memory, problem-solving skills, and ability to process things.
The study found that doing moderate and vigorous exercise and activities—even those that were done in under 10 minutes—were linked to much higher cognition scores than people who spent most of their time sitting, sleeping, or doing gentle activities. ( Vigorous exercise generally includes things like running, swimming, biking up an incline, and dancing; moderate exercise includes brisk walking and anything that gets your heart beating faster.)
The researchers specifically found that people who did these workouts had better working memory (the small amount of information that can be held in your mind and used in the execution of cognitive tasks) and that the biggest impact was on executive processes like planning and organization.
On the flip side: People who spent more time sleeping, sitting, or only moved a little in place of doing moderate to vigorous exercise had a 1% to 2% drop in cognition.
“Efforts should be made to preserve moderate and vigorous physical activity time, or reinforce it in place of other behaviors,” the researchers wrote in the conclusion.
This isn’t the first study to find a link between exercise and enhanced cognition. In fact, the (CDC) specifically states online that physical activity can help improve your cognitive health, improving memory, emotional balance, and problem-solving.
Working out regularly can also lower your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. One scientific analysis of 128,925 people published in the journal in 2020 found that cognitive decline is almost twice as likely in adults who are inactive vs. their more active counterparts.
But, the “why” behind it all is “not entirely clear,” says , senior brain health coach and director of the FitBrain Program at Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica, CA. However, Glatt says, previous research suggests that “it is possible that different levels of activity may affect brain blood flow and cognition.” Meaning, exercising at a harder clip can stimulate blood flow to your brain and enhance your ability to think well in the process.
Currently, the CDC that most adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise. Walk your dog, if you have one ( found that dog owners walk, on average, 22 minutes more every day than people who don’t own dogs)