Workout articles, healthy lifestyle tips, and fitness advice.

Exercise Can Improve Memory and Brain Health

women walking outside
Just 10 minutes of exercise a day can improve memory.
by Cheryl S. Grant

You already know that there are many good reasons to exercise! It can, for example, help you build strength, reduce blood pressure, and ward off disease. But did you know that exercise can improve memory as well?

Research from the University of California Irvine and Japan's University Tsukuba has linked exercise with improved memory and brain health, and the best part is your fitness level won't limit you here because any form of physical activity (including walking) can do the trick!

A Little Goes a Long Way

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise weekly for overall health, brain benefits typically start to kick in after just 10 minutes.

When researchers studied magnetic resonance imaging of the brain after short bouts of exercise, they saw improved connectivity between the hippocampus (the part of the brain that's responsible for verbal memory and learning) and the cortical areas, which are linked to detailed memory processing.

Walk Before You Run

Don't feel like you need to hop on the treadmill and run at top speed to see progress! Many studies have examined how even walking can improve memory in cases where the focus has been on producing consistent results.

A recent study from New Mexico Highlands University discovered that it isn't just the movement from walking that affects the brain but also the impact of your foot on the ground, which can cause pressure that increases the blood supply to the brain.

There's no need to worry about developing a tiring workout routine to improve your memory — you can start by simply putting one foot in front of the other!

Set a Goal

If you feel daunted by the CDC's advice of almost 30 minutes of working out daily, just remember that everyone starts somewhere! Set a suitable goal, work toward it for a few minutes daily, and try to increase the time of your workout by five to 10 minutes every week.

If you do not enjoy walking, the elliptical machine and resistance training can be great alternatives — it's less about the activity itself and more about getting your heart rate up and your body moving.

Get Out There!

Yes, exercise takes some discipline, but it can also offer you chances to get outside, meet new friends at the gym, and realize the potential of your body and mind!

To help you stick with exercising, try recording your progress in a journal or using a fitness tracking device. The ability to reflect on your progress can help you stay focused and reach your goal more efficiently, and many trackers provide weekly updates on your activity that can help you see the bigger picture as it develops.

Now that you know exercise can improve memory, share the knowledge with your friends - they may just join you at the gym! Having someone to help you stay accountable can inspire you to show up and get the job done. Personal trainers can also help you every step of the way!

After all, if working out can help your body and your mind, why not exercise smart?

As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.