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How Exercise Can Protect Your Memory And Aging Brain

How Exercise Can Protect Your Memory And Aging Brain

Memory is the essential function of our brain. It allows us to navigate life and think about everything we’ve experienced. However, as we age, our memory begins to decline. As a result, it becomes harder and harder to remember information – especially if you have daily activities that involve heavy mental work.

Exercise not only improves cognitive function but also can help protect synapses from aging, so your memory stays sharp for more extended periods. With this knowledge in mind, here are some ways exercise and memory connect.

Memory Loss And Exercise

The hippocampus is the part of the brain that controls short-term memory and spatial navigation. As we age, our hippocampus shrinks and retracts away from the cortex. It causes our short-term memory to decline, which means it’s harder for us to remember information as quickly or in as much detail as we used to.

Exercise can help protect against this decline by keeping your hippocampus at its original size. 

Another way that exercise helps with memory is by stimulating neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow neurons to communicate across an area of the brain called a synapse. 

When neurotransmitters are active, cells are better at transmitting information from one neuron to another and vice versa. 

Exercise can stimulate these neurotransmitters, making synapses stronger, not destroyed so easily with age. 

The more you exercise, the better it can protect synapses, which means you have a greater chance of retaining memories for more extended periods.

How Exercise Protects Memory

How Exercise Can Protect Your Memory And Aging Brain

The benefits of exercise are numerous, and one is that it improves memory. One study showed that individuals who exercised regularly had better memory function than those who didn’t. However, the intensity of the exercise affects how much it protects the brain. 

The study found that moderate-intensity exercise helped protect memory, but high-intensity exercise did not impact memory. 

With this information in mind, it’s best to do moderate-intensity exercises like walking or running rather than high-intensity activities like sprinting or weightlifting.

Some other ways exercise can help you remember by increasing levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that helps with neuron health and oxygen levels in your brain. 

In addition, there’s evidence that aerobic exercise can increase blood flow around your brain and improve cognition and memory function – both good things for your brain!

Why Exercise Improves Cognitive Function

Exercise is not just a physical activity. It also helps our brain with cognitive functions that keep us sharp as we age.

Another way exercise improves memory is because it can help reduce anxiety– one of the leading causes of memory loss—exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that have a relaxing effect on our brains and body.

There is the theory that exercise can increase dopamine and serotonin, which are linked to memory. And as stated earlier, it increases (BDNF), which is vital for learning.

In addition, exercise promotes neurogenesis, which is how new neurons are born in the brain. Also, it induces genes that protect from toxins and reduce inflammation, two factors that play a role in preventing age-related cognitive decline.


As we age, our brains become less able to perform the same functions that younger people can handle easily. One of the many reasons for this is that our synapses become less efficient, and it becomes more challenging for the brain to protect these synapses from degradation.

However, exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to combat this issue, especially in older adults. 

This is due to both cognitive and physical benefits that exercise has on the body, including improvements in mood, alertness, sleep, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels.

So, even if you’re not looking to increase your memory, exercise can still provide some benefits for your brain that will benefit your overall health and well-being.