What happens to your brain after just 20 minutes of weightlifting…

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What happens to your brain after just 20 minutes of weightlifting…

Man Lifting Weights

Everyone knows the lasting benefits that exercise delivers; from fighting diseases like cancer to helping you stay independent in your twilight years. But did you know exercise – in fact as little as 20 minutes of exercise – can boost your long-term memory by as much as 10%. This finding is especially important given that one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s disease or a form of dementia.

“Our study indicates that people don’t have to dedicate large amounts of time to give their brain a boost,” study leader Lisa Weinberg, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said in a written statement.

The Study

Researchers asked 46 healthy young adults to remember a series of 90 photographs shown on a computer screen. Then half of the group worked out on a leg-extension exercise machine -- doing 50 reps -- while the other half sat in a chair and didn't exercise. The researchers then took saliva samples from each person.

Two days later, the same men and women met with the researchers again to look at a series of 180 photographs, which included the 90 photos that were shown before. This time, the men and women were asked to recall which photos they had seen previously and which were new.

The Findings

The research found that the participants who exercised remembered around 60 percent of the photos they had seen before, while those who didn't exercise remembered only around 50 percent. Read the study here.

The Science

A previous study involving older men and women (50 to 85 years old) found that a brief workout improves memory due to the exercise-induced release of the stress hormone norepinephrine This hormone is considered a chemical messenger in the brain and plays a strong role in memory. In this study, the group that exercised had increased amounts of norepinephrine in their saliva samples, thus revealing a connection between exercise and memory.

Other Mental Benefits include:

  • Sharpens Thinking by boosting proteins that help with mental acuity, learning and memory
  • May alleviate childhood ADHD Symptoms
  • Helps learn new tricks from muscle memory or motor memory – men who were taught to follow a complicated pattern on a computer and subsequently exercised were better able to remember the pattern in subsequent days than the men who didn’t. Read more here.
  • Supports Problem Solving – running can help generate new neurons and those new neurons give a boost to completing unfamiliar tasks. Read more here.
  • Alleviates Symptoms of Depression because exercise causes your pituitary gland to release endorphins that mitigate the physical stress and pain, and can also alleviate depression. Read more here.
  • Reduces Stress by raising the threshold for our cortisol levels, a hormone associated with physical stress and memory loss. Read more here.
  • Can Delay Memory Loss by generating new neurons in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that shrinks as we age and contributes to memory loss. Read more here.
Read 3692 times Last modified on Friday, 21 November 2014 21:06

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