Can exercise really improve memory and stimulate new brain cell growth? The answer is yes! The PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) has demonstrated that a healthy dose of cardiovascular exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells, improving both the memory and the ability to learn new skills.
How does this work? The hippocampus is one of just a few areas of an adult brain that is capable of creating new cells, and cardiovascular exercise has, indeed, been found to stimulate such creation when performed for just ten minutes or more in some studies. Similar studies have also demonstrated that the normal decline in brain tissue (of 15% – 25% from age 30 to 90) is also very slowed with aerobic exercise.
Memory loss, impaired learning, and other deficiencies associated with age all seem to be battled with regular, appropriate cardiovascular work. It is to be noted that other forms of exercise, such as flexibility exercises, may or may not have this same effect, as they were not part of these studies. So when you just don’t feel like exercising, think again and improve your memory!