Regular exercise has long been known to protect overall health and cognitive function, especially as people get older. Now, research suggests that even a brief stint of moderately intense exercise can improve memory in the short term.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, had people ages 50 to 85 — some of whom had memory deficits, some of whom didn’t — view pleasant images, such as nature and animals, before exercising on a stationary bicycle for six minutes at 70 percent of their maximum capacity.
An hour later, they were given an unexpected recall test on the previously viewed images.Both healthy and cognitively impaired adults who rode the bike experienced “a striking enhancement of memory,” compared to those who didn’t exercise.
The researchers theorized that exercise triggers the release of norepinephrine, a chemical messenger in the brain that’s known to play a strong role in the modulation of memory.
“Drug studies have shown that increasing norepinephrine results in memory enhancement, and decreasing this brain chemical blocks this memory-enhancing effect,” explained study lead author Sabrina Segal, Ph.D., of the UCI Center on Stress and Health.
“The findings, along with previous research, suggest that exercising immediately after learning [something] may result in the greatest memory benefit,” she concluded.
In the future, you may want to time your trips to the gym accordingly.
© 2014 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.