Exercise linked to brain cell growth and improved memory
(NaturalHealth365) In addition to all the other health benefits of exercise, it could also help to give you a better memory. New research out of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland has shown that exercise helps with preserving brain cells and preventing loss of memory, cognitive issues and general memory problems.
In the Finnish study, aerobic activity in particular was found to support healthier brain cells and prevent memory problems better than other exercise types studied, including weight lifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
While weight lifting and HIIT have better fat burning properties, moderate aerobic exercise seems to cultivate healthier brain cells and protect against loss of memory.
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Moderate aerobic exercise can help preserve brain cells and eliminate memory problems
For the study, University of Jyvaskyla researchers put groups of rats on three different workout programs to determine their effects on memory and overall brain health. Weight lifting, running and high-intensity interval training were the three types studied.
The training regimens created were made to model approximately what the typical human might do in a workout program. The running group used a treadmill much as humans do, and the weight lifting group climbed a ladder with little weights attached to their tails. The HIIT group alternated short durations of sprinting and jogging.
By study’s end, while all of the rats showed general fitness gains, the weight lifting group and the HIIT group showed no signs of neurogenesis, or new brain cell growth. By contrast, the running group demonstrated growth in brain cells as well as a reduction in the loss of memory and memory problems.
Mild stress fuels growth of brain cells, while high stress can prevent it
A 2014 study of elderly women showed a similar effect. Those who did regular aerobic exercise showed growth in the portion of the brain responsible for memory. The women who did only weight lifting did not demonstrate this positive effect on their brain cells.
While HIIT is excellent for fat burning, the researchers believe its high intensity could lead to stress that hinders brain cell growth. Stress is generally associated with reducing neurogenesis, or positive brain cell growth. That said, mild stress can be beneficial to brain health and growth, which could characterize the effects of moderate running or similar aerobic exercise on the brain.
Exercise intensity is the key to avoiding memory loss
Weight lifting also has numerous benefits for strength, metabolism, fat burning, posture and bone density. However, it does not seem to impact brain health in terms of improving memory of avoiding memory problems. That said, most every type of exercise offers some positive benefits to general brain chemistry and mood.
More vigorous circuit training with weights has been shown to impact brain health positively. A Georgia Tech study found regular short but vigorous weight training workouts of around 20 minutes each to enhance episodic (long-term) memory by 10 percent in young adults. The variable here seems to be intensity.
If you want to preserve and improve your memory, incorporate regular moderate aerobic exercise into your fitness routine.
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