With increasing age, we tend to experience increasing pains and aches especially after waking up or on rainy days. There is a greater chance of developing chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. One of the most frightening issues is the memory issue.
Researchers performed a series of experiments to check if exercise improves the brain functioning and enhances memory over a short period. Just 10 minutes of exercise performed regularly, repeated a few times throughout the day may improve both physical and mental health.
The findings of the study are published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Alzheimer’s disease of dementia is a major memory issue. More than 5 million people of all ages in the United States are suffering from Alzheimer’s. According to an estimate, 5.8 million Americans age 65 or above are having Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020. One in 10 people with the age of 65 or older is suffering from this disease.
Researchers are focusing more time and efforts on finding more ways for reducing cognitive decline. Most of the research focuses on the hippocampus, the region that is involved in memory and learning. It is one of the first regions that show deterioration signs.
Physical exercise is one of the basic lifestyle interventions to promote mental fitness including hippocampus-dependant memory. Researchers use functional MRI in healthy adults to check the immediate impact of mild exercise on the brain functions supporting the memory process.
Past studies have revealed that adults who are more active physically tend to have comparatively larger hippocampus. These studies also showed that exercise improves brain function and enhance cognitive abilities and memory performance.
It has been observed that physical activities stimulate the growth of brain cells and keep the brain active and young. Changes in the brain functioning produced by neurogenesis can only be observed over long periods.
The team of researchers observed measurable improvements in brain activity related to memory during the first few minutes after a light exercise. Improved connectivity in the dentate gyrus and cortical parts of the brain was seen during brain imaging. The dentate gyrus is the part of the hippocampus that is responsible for establishing memories and cortical regions help process detailed memories.
Researchers tested the participants by using standard memory recall tests and observed that increased connectivity is linked with improved memory performance.
Dr Michael Yassa said that 10 minutes of exercise showed improvement immediately afterwards. He emphasized that even short walking breaks may have considerable effects on improving cognition and memory function.
Researchers are focus to determine whether these positive results are also applicable to older adults who are at elevated risk of cognitive decline. They are aiming to understand if light exercise performed regularly alters the function and structure of brain over a long time and to know the ideal amount of exercise which is required by our body to make a lasting difference. This will also improve the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s’ s disease or dementia.