Strong memory depends on the health and vitality of your brain. Whether you are a student studying for final exams, a working professional interested in doing all you can to stay mentally sharp, or a senior looking to preserve and enhance your grey matter as you age, there are lots of things you can do to improve your memory and mental performance.
Did you know that brain power can be given a boost at any age?
They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but when it comes to the brain, scientists have discovered that this old adage simply isn’t true. The human brain has an astonishing ability to adapt and change—even during old age. This ability is known as neuroplasticity. With the right stimulation, your brain can form new neural pathways, alter existing connections, and adapt and react in ever-changing ways. The brain’s incredible ability to reshape itself holds true when it comes to learning and memory. You can harness the natural power of neuroplasticity to increase your cognitive abilities, enhance your ability to learn new information, and improve your memory at any age.
The May 2014 Harvard Health Letter contained an excerpt that said exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells. Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment. Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t.
How to improve memory via exercise?
While mental exercise is important for brain health, that doesn’t mean you never need to break a sweat. Physical exercise helps your brain stay sharp. It increases oxygen to your brain and reduces the risk for disorders that lead to memory loss, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Aerobic exercise is particularly good for the brain, so choose activities that keep your blood pumping. In general, anything that is good for your heart is great for your brain.
- Does it take you long time to clear out the sleep fog when you wake up? If so, you may find that exercising in the morning before you start your day makes a big difference. In addition to clearing out the cobwebs, it also primes you for learning throughout the day.
- Physical activities that require hand-eye coordination or complex motor skills are particularly beneficial for brain building.
- Exercise breaks can help you get past mental fatigue and afternoon slumps. Even a short walk or a few jumping jacks can be enough to reboot your brain.
How else can you boost memory?
Here are a few more tips that can help you out:
Eliminate stress and depression
Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away at the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream, which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. This diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus, which is where short-term memories are stored. Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new
Get a good night’s sleep and take naps
Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information. Enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.
Listen to music
Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection is often recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.
Eggs contain B vitamins, which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage, and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed. Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins.
Exercise does play a major role in boosting memory – structure a routine and stick to it regularly. Will exercise improve my memory