Most people know that regular exercise is good for your health. But did you know that it might make you smarter and boost your memory too?
But before you groan at the thought of 30 minutes a day of aerobics, a super intense HIIT session or the necessity to walk for an hour after supper, you can forget about it.
That’s because a new study by neuroscientists at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon, has found it takes very little exercise to make big brain strides — far, far less than you would have ever thought…
Short-term bursts prime your brain
Previous research has shown that regular exercise promotes general brain health in animals and people.
But in most of those studies, the scientists couldn’t untangle the overall benefits of exercise to the heart, liver and muscles from the specific effects it has on the brain. For example, a healthy heart oxygenates the whole body, including the brain which keeps it functioning at a higher level.
And almost all these studies had focused on sustained exercise — the kind that would have you running or biking for miles or walking 10,000 steps a day. No wonder most us give up before we even get a good start.
So, the OHSU scientists designed a study in mice that specifically measured the brain’s response to single bouts of short exercise to see what brief sessions of physical activity can do for the brain.
They used otherwise sedentary mice that were placed for short periods on running wheels. The mice ran a few kilometers in two hours. According to the scientists, this was the human equivalent of a weekly game of pickup basketball or walking just 4,000 steps.
And they found that these short-term bursts of exercises had big benefits…
In fact, these brief exercise sessions promoted an increase in synapses in the hippocampus — the area of your brain responsible for learning and memory, in effect priming your brain for these functions.
An easier way with added benefits
“Exercise is cheap, and you don’t necessarily need a fancy gym membership or have to run 10 miles a day,” said co-senior author Gary Westbrook, M.D., senior scientist at the OHSU Vollum Institute and Dixon Professor of Neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine.
Instead, just 4,000 steps once a week or a short bout of any other type of exercise you like could be enough to keep your brain youthful.
And exercise isn’t the only way to supercharge your brain health…
Another option for boosting your brain power is by supplementing with phosphatidylserine — PS, for short. PS is a fatty substance found in your brain that protects and covers brain cells and carries messages between them.
Nourishing your brain with PS is an extremely effective natural way to boost your brain’s function, memory and clarity.
In fact, one research study performed in Italy found that phosphatidylserine can enhance your memory by a whopping 44 percent. And a second study found that the nutrient had the ability to roll back a full 12 years of mental decline.
But PS has another big added benefit: It could also make exercising for your brain health easier on your body…
It’s been reported to help ease muscle soreness — so as you ease into a daily short burst of exercise, it can help your body adjust. But if you want to let your inner athlete come out to play, PS has also been found to improve exercise capacity and performance.
So, for the money, the best combination for keeping your brain and your memory healthy is a supplement that boosts your brainpower and supports your body’s fitness.