A light jog might be the key to jogging your memory.
The next time you misplace your keys, don't sit down to think about where you left them.
Try taking a ten-minute walk instead.
A new study by the University of California and Japan's University of Tsukuba has shown that you're more likely to find them if you do.
The study examined the brains of 36 healthy young adults after short sessions of mild exercise and found that the area of the brain associated with detailed memory processing showed better connectivity.
Even better, they found improvements after walking sessions as short as 10 minutes.
The subjects saw improvement in the hippocampus, whose name comes from the Greek words for horse and sea monster (because it looks like a sea horse.)
It's the area responsible for creating new memories and one of the brain's first regions to decline as we get older.
This study is significant because it demonstrates light exercise's immediate impact on connections within the brain's memory-focused area.
Previous studies had only targeted how exercise promotes the production of new brain cells in these regions.
So even if you don't love to exercise, this study shows that your brain can still benefit even if you only do short, light bouts of it.
Here are some other well-known benefits of exercise, in case you needed a refresher.
- Releases chemical compounds that improve your ability to focus and concentrate.
- Releases endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine that affect your mood and improve anxiety levels.
- Decreases the cortisol in your bloodstream, reducing the symptoms of stress.
- Enhances the immune system, reducing the risk of heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and cancer.
- Increases life expectancy even if you don't start until middle age
- Helps you sleep better.
With all these benefits on top of the memory boost, there's no reason not to add ten minutes of light exercise into your day.
You could try...
- tai chi
Or you could just take a walk.
With all the brain-boosting benefits that walking gives, it's no wonder that so many of history's great thinkers were avid walkers.
Some of these included...
- Greek philosopher Aristotle, gave lectures while walking, his students followed him around.
- William Wordsworth was thought to have walked about 175 thousand miles in his life
- Charles Dickens was known to go for a 20-30 minute walk every day after writing
- Beethoven took several short walks during his work hours, and then after his midday meal, he'd take a much longer one.
- Kierkegaard, philosopher, and father of existentialism, loved walking so much it was part of his writing process.
So if you're hesitant to get started, take your inspiration from those great artists and thinkers. You never know. While strolling along, you might just tap into your inner genius.
But you don't have to be anything special to get started. The great thing about light exercise is that anyone can do it, and you don't even have to be in shape to start.
It doesn't take a huge commitment to reap the benefits, either.
So why not get some light exercise and give your body and mind a boost.
The research team that did the study plans to expand it to older adults and people who are more at risk for mental decline.
They want to see if bouts of regular, brief light exercise can also help them.
But what they do know for sure is that for most people, adding light exercise into your daily routine is as good for your mind as it is for your waistline.
In the meantime, keep up those short walks and get your steps in.
They may be just your ticket to finally finding that spare set of keys.