In order to answer the question of whether or not exercise improves memory, lets take a step back and ask ourselves…
What improves memory?
Sleep – sleep is hugely important in the formation and the solidification of memories. If you aren’t getting enough of it your memory will suffer. There is a ton of science to back this up, but I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone that has ever gone without sleep.
If you are tired, your memory is suffering. And if you are masking your exhaustion with sugar and caffeine then you might not even realize how much a lack of sleep is affecting you.
Bottom line: Get more sleep and you will have a better memory.
A few tips that may help you fall asleep better.
- Avoid caffeine after 2pm. If you can avoid it all together.
- Sleep in a pitch black room. All that artificial light is not allowing your brain to relax and for your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin properly. Also make sure to turn off your electronics a few hours before bed. This will also aid in the production of melatonin and gently ease you into a natural circadian rhythm.
- Read fiction before bed. This will help relax you and ease you into a dream like state. Don’t bother with non-fiction. It’s important to relax your way to deep sleep.
A Decrease in Stress will Promote a good memory
Stress is not just some term people used to describe their feelings. Stress is a serious thing involving the release of all kinds of bodily chemicals (cortisol for one). A little bit of stress is good. Chronic stress disrupts all types of bodily processes especially in the brain.
So if we can decrease this stress by exercising then it seems plausible that this will also help us improve our memory. Now too much exercise that is extremely long in duration (think marathon training) can actually have the opposite effect and keep our bodies in a state of constant stress.
Go for a walk, a quick bike ride or a light weight lifting routine. Do some push-up or air squats. This doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just get something done and you will feel better.
Humans were meant to move… SO MOVE!
Increasing blood flow to the brain helps it work better
Our blood carries oxygen and other nutrients and when we exercise more of that oxygen goes to the brain. What sounds very simple is actually extremely complex, but for our benefit we don’t really have to worry about it.
Let’s just get moving and get that blood flowing to our brains so we can help improve our memory!