When we talk about doing physical exercise to improve memory, you don’t have to do activities that require great effort. It’s about maintaining healthy habits that don’t put your health at risk.
For example, you can avoid a sedentary lifestyle by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking instead of always riding in the car or any other vehicle. However, if you already have these habits in place in your life, it’s time to include some gentle exercise. You can do them as a team or individually. This is where activities such as dancing, yoga, walking and swimming come in.
Choose your favorite activity and with which you feel most comfortable in order to maintain consistency. In this way, you will improve both your physical and mental abilities.
How does physical exercise affect memory?
The Spanish Council of Scientific Investigations (CSIC) confirms, after conducting a study, that exercise has a positive impact on the brain. This organ benefits from an active lifestyle thanks to a molecule called CREB-binding protein. This is a regulator of gene expression that reprograms neurons. How can we explain it in a more colloquial way? Simply put, a person with an active lifestyle will recover sooner from a spinal cord injury than a sedentary person.
On the other hand, and according to researchers, exercise increases cognitive capacity and the formation of new neurons. Therefore, linguistic ability and mathematical analysis are enhanced. Similarly, this promotes oxygen consumption of neural cells and blood flow in the brain. As a result, the availability and functionality of key neurotransmitters is increased. What does this mean? That thanks to exercise, neuroprotection is induced, at least in the brain areas which have been investigated up to now.
Neurological benefits of physical exercise
Whether you engage in a daily activity or begin to do some physical exercise, your neurological system has to coordinate different functions. In this way, it tests and strengthens it.
Being physically active has great benefits for your health. And these benefits are not only reflected in the muscles, but also in other body structures. Some of the most important are the cardiovascular and respiratory systems but it doesn’t stop there: your brain also benefits considerably from an active lifestyle.
Some of the positive effects of physical activity on the brain are:
- Develops global cognitive function.
- Activates physiological neuroprotection systems.
- Promotes neurogenesis.
- Strengthens executive functions.
- Increases synaptic growth.
- It provides greater resistance to neuronal lesions.
- Improves mental performance and learning.
In addition, the CSIC researchers themselves indicate that the benefits you get from physical exercise are something your children and grandchildren can inherit. Laboratory animal studies indicate that cognitive and emotional effects are inheritable.
Therefore, the children of those who have obtained these benefits memorize and learn better. But it also increases the number of neurons they have in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain that controls memory and learning.
However, this does not mean that you have to play sports at a professional level. Actually, researchers indicate that professional sport is out of the question for this purpose. Why? Because they say that the impact on the body of a moderate activity is different from that of a competitive activity. In the competitive sport the body is stressed, and that is something to be avoided.
What exercises improve memory?
Crossword puzzles, word searches and brain teasers are some of the most popular brain training exercises. However, among the scientific community there seems to be no unanimity as to its efficacy. What there is uniformity of criteria is that physical activity helps us to keep our brain healthier.
In this context, the University of Illinois (United States) conducted a study with 100 people between 60 and 80 years old. Those who engaged in some form of moderate to vigorous physical activity with some frequency had greater brain activity, even at rest. This is very relevant, because more activity is directly related to better cognitive performance.
In a laboratory study with mice it was shown that they obtained improvements in their memory after being put to run in mazes. Studies have then been carried out on humans to determine which exercises “tone” the brain.
Exercises with electrostimulation
Memory loss is a common neurocognitive impairment in the elderly. Also, their physical ability may be reduced. On this issue, electro-stimulation exercises are one of the best solutions, since in just 8 sessions of 25 minutes they will notice the results. In addition, this type of exercise helps them to eliminate stress and release tension.
In short, electro-stimulation in the elderly is very beneficial in terms of general health, since it stimulates their memory and improves their muscle mass.
By performing repetition exercises, improvements in executive function can be seen. Also, those who practice such exercises are better at solving tests related to associative memory.
Benefits of being physically active
With just 10 minutes of light physical exercise daily you’ll be creating a positive impact on your short-term memory. However, there are also other benefits such as the following:
It has already been demonstrated with different studies that older people who practice some kind of physical activity have better cognitive abilities. On the other hand, this implies that doing certain exercises collaborates in the prevention of neurodegenerative prevention of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Slows down aging
Young and not-so-young people exercise regularly to stay physically and mentally active. Moreover, according to some studies this prolongs life expectancy. On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of suffering age-related diseases such as stroke, type II diabetes or some types of cancer.
Walking one meter per second gives you a healthier state of aging. Also, life expectancy is longer than those who walk 0.8 meters per second. If the distance you travel in one second is less than 0.6 meters, you are more at risk for premature death, frailty and other health problems.
If you exercise, either aerobically or anaerobically, you will have noticed that your anxiety level is lower than before. However, the antidepressant effect is greater in aerobic exercises that are practiced between 20 minutes and one hour. The appropriate frequency, on the other hand, is between 3 and 5 days a week.
Why does aerobic exercise have such an antidepressant effect? Due to the release of beta endorphins that act on your brain and produce a feeling of relaxation and well-being.
Thanks to sport you can normalize and regulate the level of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. By avoiding excess and the absence of these, your mood improves. That’s why we say that playing sports improves mental health.
What are the side effects of not being physically active?
Poor or non-existent physical exercise is one of the four most important risk factors for mortality worldwide. In addition to increasing the risk of different pathologies, it has a direct relationship with obesity and being overweight. This is something that affects 43% of children and 37% of adults in Spain.
Exercise should not only be done because it slows down aging, but also because it allows you to be active and gives you psychological well-being.
Not being physically active has a number of consequences:
- Your body loses faculties: Not taking care of your body will cause it to progressively lose the ability to function optimally. To take care of your joints, muscles and bones,you must avoid dodging situations where you exert yourself physically.
- Increases the risk of additional illnesses: Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular and lung capacity. Likewise, the absence of physical activity weakens your muscles and joints.
- Increased fatigue: Sport is a source of energy therefore, by practicing a sport you will be able to fight fatigue and you will feel better.
- Aging: If your metabolism slows down, it affects your body in general. As a result, your blood supply will worsen and you will age prematurely. Sport takes care of your physical appearance and keeps you young on the inside.
- More stress and anxiety: Sport considerably increases the production of endorphins that activate your brain. As a result, you reduce stress and can feel better about yourself. In addition, some studies have linked depression to the absence of physical activity.
In short, doing some kind of physical exercise not only improves your general health, but also has a very important impact on memory and cognitive functions. To stay informed about health issues, electrostimulation training and exercise in general, subscribe to our blog.