Dr. Gary Small, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry and aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Small, one the nations top brain health experts, frequently appears on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Dr. Oz Show. He is co-author with his wife Gigi Vorgan of many popular books, including The New York Times best-seller, The Memory Bible, and The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program. He is author of The Mind Health Report newsletter.

Dr. Gary Small, M.D.

Tags: exercise | memory | norepinephrine | aging

Exercise Boosts Short-Term Memory

Friday, 04 Apr 2014 04:09 PM

By Dr. Small

Regular exercise has long been known to protect overall health and cognitive function, especially as people get older. Now, research suggests that even a brief stint of moderately intense exercise can improve memory in the short term.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, had people ages 50 to 85 — some of whom had memory deficits, some of whom didn’t — view pleasant images, such as nature and animals, before exercising on a stationary bicycle for six minutes at 70 percent of their maximum capacity.
An hour later, they were given an unexpected recall test on the previously viewed images.Both healthy and cognitively impaired adults who rode the bike experienced “a striking enhancement of memory,” compared to those who didn’t exercise.
The researchers theorized that exercise triggers the release of norepinephrine, a chemical messenger in the brain that’s known to play a strong role in the modulation of memory.
“Drug studies have shown that increasing norepinephrine results in memory enhancement, and decreasing this brain chemical blocks this memory-enhancing effect,” explained study lead author Sabrina Segal, Ph.D., of the UCI Center on Stress and Health.
“The findings, along with previous research, suggest that exercising immediately after learning [something] may result in the greatest memory benefit,” she concluded.
In the future, you may want to time your trips to the gym accordingly.

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