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The Surprising Link Between Exercise and Your Memory

by Sydney Epstein
brain exercise - yoga

You already know that doing physical activity helps develop strong and healthy bones and muscles, but are you aware that exercise improves your memory as well?

brain exercise - yoga

How Exercise Improves Memory

Identifying the benefits of exercise on your memory is a great place to start, but further learning exactly how and why exercise benefits your memory will help you get the most out of your exercise regimens.

1. Directly improve brain function

The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls memory function. Research has concluded that physical activity helps improve the functioning and maintenance of the hippocampus, allowing it to function at its fullest potential.

Related Article: Top 5 Brain Boosting Foods

2. Reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Exercise not only helps your brain receive the necessary blood and oxygen it needs to function, but helps create new healthy cells as well.

According to Dr. Majid Fotuhi, chairman of the Neurology Institute for Brain Health and Performance and author of the upcoming book Boost Your Brain, exercise can directly reduce the levels of toxic amyloid protein which usually accumulate in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

One study showed that people with genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s who exercise regularly have amyloid levels similar to those who do not have such genetic risk factor.

Related Article: 7 Steps to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease 

3. Keep your brain young

When you engage in physical activity, your body increases its production of the chemicals that work to protect your brain. Along with protection, these components, such as BDNF proteins, have shown to fight the causes of aging within the brain.

Studies have shown that elderly individuals who engage in physical activity are less likely to experience a decrease in brain function. Memory loss is a significant function that is negatively affected by aging and, therefore, can be avoided by being physically active.

Types of Exercises to Improve Memory

While most types of physical exercise can increase blood flow to the brain and improve your cognitive function, here’s a few physical activities that are especially beneficial to improving memory.

Resistance training

Along wit helping your muscles stay strong, resistance training is also great for your brain. Resistance weight training can produce cells that nourish and replenish the brain cells relating to cognition and memory.

Related Article: How to Prevent a Weight Lifting Injury


This popular exercise regimen not only stands as a great source of physical activity, but as a tool for mental sustainability as well. The exercises included in practicing yoga combine meditation and strength training, helping your body maintain its health in both the mind, body, and spirit.

One of the main functions of practicing yoga is to reduce and alleviate stress. When your body experiences stress, your brain becomes full of cortisol, which impairs the memory component of the brain. Therefore, stress-reducing activities like yoga can minimize cortisol and keep your brain in a healthy state for memory functions.

Related Article: Health Benefits of Yoga

Walking & aerobic activity.

Studies show that walking 30 to 40 minutes a day, 3 days of the week improves brain growth in the hippocampus, the area directly associated with memory. The same resulting brain growth has been noted with other aerobic activity as well.

The Takeaway

Engaging in physical activity and exercise not only contributes to a healthy lifestyle, but benefits your memory as well. So grab a dumbbell, yoga matt or running shoes and start exercising your body and improving your memory today!

This story was reviewed and approved by Dr. Majid Fotuhi

Photo by lululemon athletica

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