The many benefits of regular exercise seem endless. To add, new research out of the University of Michigan supports another benefit to regular exercise — improved memory.

The study, which appears in Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscienceassessed the memory capacity of 75 college students, who were thought to be healthy.

Over a two-day period, the students were asked to memorize two word pairings, which they were asked to recall the next day. Their level of fitness was assessed with a treadmill test; in addition to, measurements of body fat, weight, age and sex.

Although the participants were young, a large portion of the 75 students were out of shape, which strongly correlated with a lower recall rate of word pairings. Those who were fit performed significantly better.

Exercise and Memory

In addition to reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, further support now exists for the benefits of exercise in improving memory. While this study showed the benefits of exercise in younger adults, other studies have also supported the benefits of regular exercise in older adults.

This 2011 article specifically looked at the benefits of exercise on the hippocampus, the “memory center” of the brain. The hippocampus naturally shrinks with age, which correlates to a worsening memory. However, this study showed that regular exercise increases the size of the hippocampus by 2%, which correlates to an age-related loss in volume by 1-2 years!

Take Home Point

Whether you are trying to pass your upcoming final exams, or simply want to preserve your memory with time, it is important to incorporate regular exercise into your daily/weekly schedule. The more you exercise the better, but even a little bit can be beneficial. If you are pressed for time, look into high-intensity interval training workout routines that provide excellent exercise benefit in less time!

Work your body, save your brain 🙂