Doing this exercise can improve your memory by 10%.
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You’ve heard the saying “all brawn no brain”, but how true is it?
Science is finding the truth may actually be “more brawn, more brain”.
One single workout with weights can immediately improve your memory by around 10%, according to research.
Research has already established that months of aerobic exercise can improve your memory.
But this is the first study examining the effects of a short amount of resistance training.
Lead researcher Lisa Weinberg, of Georgia Tech, said:
Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost
People in the study viewed a series of photos and asked not to memorize them.
Half the participants did 50 leg extensions in a gym resistance machine. The other half sat in the leg extension chair for the same amount of time but the machine moved their legs.
The participants returned to the lab 48 hours later and saw a series of 180 pictures — 90 original photos mixed in with 90 new ones.
The control group recalled about 50%of the photos from the first session.
Those who exercised remembered about 60%.
So how does weight lifting improve your memory?
Well, basically research has found that people are better at remembering things – especially emotional experiences – after acute (short-term) stress.
This was also true of this study.
The researchers tracked neurotransmitters levels by measuring saliva levels during the study.
They found that exercise participants had increased saliva measures of alpha amylase, a marker of central norepinephrine (a stress hormone).
Another of the study’s authors, Audrey Duarte said:
Even without doing expensive fMRI scans, our results give us an idea of what areas of the brain might be supporting these exercise-induced memory benefits.
The findings are encouraging because they are consistent with rodent literature that pinpoints exactly the parts of the brain that play a role in stress-induced memory benefits caused by exercise.
Dr. Minoru Shinohara, a physiologist and another of the study’s authors commented:
We can now try to determine its applicability to other types of memories and the optimal type and amount of resistance exercise in various populations.
This includes older adults and individuals with memory impairment.
Actually, the good news is, you don’t even have to lift weights to get the memory gains.
The researchers noted that simple resistance exercises, such as squats or knee bends, would probably produce the same results.
So next time you need to remember something important, just get knee bending….preferably when no one’s watching!
The study was published in Acta Psychologica (Weinberg et al., 2014).
Image credit: pixabay