A new study reveals how exercise affects your memory
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Research shows that some types of exercise help you remember details, while others can help more with things like where you left your keys.
There are many benefits to exercising: it’s good for our physical health, can boost our mood and even make us more resilient to stress. It may also improve memory by helping the brain build new neural pathways in different parts of the brain.
A new study, as examined in new York Timeshas now strengthened the link between exercise and memory. According to the article, a research paper from Dartmouth College in the US also describes how different types of exercise – or, rather, intensity – affect our memory.
Interestingly, the academics behind the study found that participants who did light to moderate activities – such as regular jogging – had better ‘episodic’ memory. In simple words, it means the ability to remember the details of everyday events, such as catching up with a friend at a cafe.
For those who participated in running or high-intensity interval training (HITT), their spatial memory improved. Spatial memory refers to the ability to remember physical relationships, such as where you left your keys or locate a particular landmark or object.
as highlighted in NYT piece, these findings are in line with many previous studies but more work is needed to strengthen the associations and understand their causes.
Science writer, and author of the piece, Rachel Fairbanks, also touches on the difficulties of this area of study. She writes:
“One of the major challenges in studying the link between regular exercise and memory is that changes are hard to measure. This is complicated by the fact that many other factors affect memory, such as having a sedentary office job.” Or chronic sleep deprivation.
In addition, there are different types of memory – which describe how a person may consistently lose their keys (poor spatial memory) but have a knack for remembering the date of birth (strong semantic memory).”
But, while more work may be needed by researchers to fully understand the subtle details of how exercise affects different types of memory, there are many benefits that we already know about.
From protecting against conditions such as heart disease and increasing energy, exercise has also been shown to improve concentration and sleep.
As if we needed more reasons to love being active.