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Even light workouts can improve memory

05 Nov 2018 13:01 PM
Science

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Scientists investigated the benefits of light exercising. It comes out that even mild physical activity can improve the connectivity between parts of the brain responsible for memory formation and storage.

Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and Japan's University of Tsukuba involved 36 healthy young adults in their study. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences it shows that a single 10-minute period of mild exertion causes considerable cognitive benefits.

Using up to date high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging they examined subjects' brains right after working out.

That's how the project co-leader Michael Yassa, UCI professor and Chancellor's Fellow of neurobiology & behavior described the results: "The hippocampus is critical for the creation of new memories; it's one of the first regions of the brain to deteriorate as we get older - and much more severely in Alzheimer's disease," he said. "Improving the function of the hippocampus holds much promise for improving memory in everyday settings."

According to Yassa, director of UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory prior research aimed at investigating the way the generation of new brain cells in memory regions can be promoted by exercise.

Whereas this study puts this impact on the next level. "We don't discount the possibility that new cells are being born, but that's a process that takes a bit longer to unfold," he said. "What we observed is that these 10-minute periods of exercise showed results immediately afterward."

"It's encouraging to see more people keeping track of their exercise habits - by monitoring the number of steps they're taking, for example," he said. "Even short walking breaks throughout the day may have considerable effects on improving memory and cognition."

"Clearly, there is a tremendous value to understanding the exercise prescription that best works in the elderly so that we can make recommendations for staving off cognitive decline," he summed up.

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