Two Time USA Memory Champion, memory training expert and memory keynote Ron White shares his thoughts on how exercise can aid in memory improvement.

Studies are currently underway to determine the benefits of exercise to improve your memory, as well as your overall health. It has long been know that exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and cuts down on hypertension, weight gain and blood circulation. Scientists are now learning that anxiety disorders contributing to disconnects and malfunction of the areas of the brain that lead to dementia can also be improved with a regular exercise regiment.

Studies are hopeful that research will definitively determine that exercise can improve mental clarity, and prevent or at least delay dementia – which is good news for those Baby Boomers who are coming of age and beginning to worry about such things.

Due to the fact that the majority of people do not adhere to a rigorous and consistent pattern of exercise, up until now the majority of tests have only been done on rodents in a laboratory. Results from these tests have been positive, showing an increase in the BDNF   (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) protein found the hippocampal region of the brain believed to control cognitive functions.

The BDNF protein works on certain neurons and neurotransmitters in the central and peripheral nervous systems to help existing neurons survive, as well as encourage new growth. In the brain, this protein is active in the hippompus, cortex and basal forebrain -areas that are vital to learning, memorizing and higher cognitive reasoning. BDNF is, by itself, important for long-term memory.

The majority of our brain neurons are formed before we are born, but a process within our brains, called neurogenesis, allows new neurons to form in adults. BDNF is the most active of the brain chemicals that help to control neurogenesis. (Aside: Mice born without the ability to manufacture BDNF usually die soon after birth, suffering developmental defects in the brain and sensory nervous system.  This would suggest the BDNF is an essential ingredient in our brain chemistry for mental development.)

If exercise were to increase the production of BDNF, then a natural assumption would be that exercise would improve your memory!

Older people, especially, need to eat correctly to keep their arteries from clogging, and exercise regularly to allow the blood to flow through the heart – providing more oxygen to the brain. Regular light exercises, such as brisk walks and swimming, along with brain exercises, will help to improve your memory and stamina, and prevent a decline in cognitive skills.

Since it has not been studied enough, as of yet, to determine exactly what exercises produce the best results, an active lifestyle that includes a regular physical regiment of light exercise (such as walking); maintaining a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fats, antioxidants and whole grains; and brain exercises and games will increase your longevity, and improve your memory.

Therefore, if you have been feeling forgetful, or slow to process simple things, it could be that you are not getting enough exercise – and you need to make some lifestyle changes!



Your Health and Fitness Guide –

Exercise primes a molecular memory for brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein induction in the rat hippocampus:

Wikipedia –