How does exercise shape the quality of our cognitive functions? Does keeping in shape mean that you also keep your memory in a fit state too? If you struggle to retain information could it be directly related to your fitness levels? There’s so much research yet to come in this area but one recent study adds to the growing opinion that sedentary lifestyles can affect people’s minds.
As well as being able to function in a physically able way, we would all put a strong emphasis on our cognitive functions. One of these valuable processes is memory: where we store and retain information. While some people may simply accept that memories fade, or the ability to remember deteriorates with age, is that true? When considering what impacts our memory, we should not necessarily focus attention on the idea of recounting people, places and events from yesteryear after a long and adventure-filled life. What about remembering something from yesterday at a much earlier age?
Michigan State University researchers recently published a study suggesting that exercise can have a positive impact on long-term memory; that is memory beyond 30 seconds. The Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience journal published study put 75 college students to the test over two days.
The participants were given related word pairs – such as ‘camp’ and ‘trail’ – to memorize before being tested again on what they could remember the next day, some 24 hours later. Considerations for age, sex and weight were made, as well as IQ. On top of this, the fitness levels of students were determined through measuring their VO2 max.
The findings suggest that those students who were not as fit lost a greater amount of their memory across the time period. Not only that but it seemed that finding sedentary students was not an issue, according to Assistant Professor of Psychology, Kimberly Fenn, one of the researchers, who commented that, “A surprising number of college students in the study were significantly out of shape and did much worse at retaining information than those who were extremely fit.”
It seems that the more we discover and learn about the benefits of exercise the wider they become. Where once the focus was on weight and the heart, it is becoming apparent that keeping fit is about so much more; about all the interrelated functions and systems at play. However, while knowledge is expanding so are waistlines and this is in part due to the sit-down lifestyles as a result of the development and use of technology.
The answer is to add workouts and fitness into your schedule; as an intrinsically vital part of your life, as natural as logging on or using a smartphone. Boosting your memory can impact your everyday life in a big way and this is something you could well be doing right now. It is not a consideration for the elderly but for all ages.
Don’t forget to get in touch if you want to remember some great fitness sessions!