Node Smith, ND
Exercise and movement are great for our health
Studies have shown that exercise is linked to improvements in virtually every health marker you can think of – cardiovascular health, brain health, blood sugar, weight, emotional health, etc. Exercise even helps us sleep and rest better. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that exercise is good for our memory either.
H.I.T Increases an Important Neuropeptide in the Brain
In a recent research study, it was seen that high intensity workout training could improve memory as well as increase a very important neuropeptide in the brain in as little as 6 weeks.
A group of 95 non-active young adults were enrolled in a study to observe the effects that a 6-week high intensity workout program had on memory and cognition. The workout sessions consisted of 1-minute periods of high intensity activity alternating with recovery periods of 1-minute. The sessions were only 20-minutes total time, and were conducted 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). Before and after the study, memory was measured using standard questionnaires as well as blood concentration of brain derived neurotrophic factor.
Hippocampus Likely Enhanced with Exercise
The study found that the ability to form and keep high fidelity memory with little interference improved with exercise. In other words, the participants could remember things with better clarity and more accurately. Brain derived neurotrophic factor was also increased in many of the participants. Brain derived neurotrophic factor is typically low in conditions which are marked by memory deficits, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The region of the brain responsible for these types of memories is the hippocampus, which is what is likely enhanced with exercise.
Study Could be Used as First Line Defense in Exercise Regimes for Cognitive Decline Disorders
The researchers are hopeful that this study, and others like it will support a move toward using exercise regimes as first line preventative strategies against Alzheimer’s and other disorders of cognitive decline. Exercising earlier in life may have the very real benefit of lowering the risk of developing some of these conditions.
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.