Physical exercise has beneficial effects on neurocognitive function, including hippocampus-dependent episodic memory. Exercise intensity level can be assessed according to whether it induces a stress response; the most effective exercise for improving hippocampal function remains unclear.
However, in a new study, a group of scientists has found out exactly how rigorous of a workout is required.
The answer is only 10 minutes, which also happens to be the amount of time it takes to fold a load of laundry. The study suggests that the power of the exercise is nothing to fear.
So, to investigate, 36 healthy young adult participants carried out just 10 minutes of light exercise. The team then used high-resolution functional MRI to measure any changes in brain activity.
The brain imaging indicated enhanced network between the dentate gyrus, which is a piece of the hippocampus that is thought to assume a role in setting down new episodic recollections, and cortical regions associated with a point by point memory preparing.
Additionally, when the scientists tried the members utilizing a memory recall test, the expanded availability corresponded with enhanced memory performance.
Project co-leader Michael Yassa said, “What we observed is that these 10-minute periods of exercise showed results immediately afterward.”
“It is encouraging to see more people keeping track of their exercise habits — by monitoring the number of steps they’re taking, for example. Even short walking breaks throughout the day may have considerable effects on improving memory and cognition.”
Scientists are now further planning to run longer-term studies in older adults who have an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Yassa said, “The hippocampus is critical for the creation of new memories; it’s one of the first regions of the brain to deteriorate as we get older […] Improving the function of the hippocampus holds much promise for improving memory in everyday settings.”
“Finding that light exercise could have a measurable impact on the parts of the brain responsible for memory is the first step; but next, we need to develop a clearer understanding of the ideal amount of activity necessary to make a real and lasting difference.”
The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.