Effects Of Exercise On Memory

Effects Of Exercise On Memory

We all know that exercise gives us many physical benefits like maintaining weight, controlling blood pressure, reducing the chances of heart stroke and diabetes. But do we know that exercise also gives us a lot many mental benefits especially benefits related to our memory?

Yes, it is true and we are going to discuss, what are a different kind of effects on different memories of the brain also we will discuss how to improve and sharp those memories.  The brain does not store all kinds of memories in one portion; different kinds of memories are stored in different portions of the brain. 

Regular aerobic exercise helps in boosting the size of these particular brain areas called the temporal cortex and prefrontal cortex which are involved in learning and verbal memory. Short term memories rely on the prefrontal cortex. 

Many studies and experiments have been performed to check the effects of exercise on memory and conclusion of those experiments are as follows

Effect On Semantic Memory

Semantic memory is a kind of knowledge of our culture and surroundings which we are a part of or semantic memory can be understood as a memory consisted of general facts and knowledge. Examples of semantic memories are like red is a colour and football is a game etc. Portions which get activated to handle semantic memories are prefrontal and temporal cortex.

Sometimes in middle and in old age, semantic memory is one of the memories which start getting fade. If a person gives time to exercise on a daily bases it affects our mind in such a manner that even in old age brain can easily skip experiencing brain fog and it protects its memory and thinking abilities as well. In experiments, it is found that 12 weeks of regular walking either on a treadmill or in a park changed the working of that particular portion of the mind which is involved in semantic memory. After almost 4 months of regular walking, the brain requires fewer resources to access the semantic memory which is the desired result. Now scientists are planning to conduct an experiment of particular exercises on semantic memory.

An Experiment Performed On Semantic Memory

An experiment published in 2013 showed how exercise affects semantic memory. 26 mentally healthy men and women of the age group 55 to 85 were recruited. They were asked to visit an exercise lab twice a day where they either rested quietly or rode an exercise bike for half an hour. Scientists arranged their exercise pattern in such a manner that they get simulated but not exhausted. Afterwards, the volunteers were asked to lie down inside a M.I.R. machine. Some famous names were displayed on a screen along with other names that were taken from a local phone directory. Volunteers were asked to press one key on the recognition of a famous name and another key on the name which is not recognized by them. Scientists were expecting that after the workout that particular portion of their brain will act silently as it did before the workout. However, results were surprising as parts needed for semantic memory were more active and gave better results.

It was concluded through this experiment that as with regular exercise first our muscle tissues break and then we become more healthy and fit and the same muscles work more efficiently with less energy consumption.

In the same manner, regular exercise improves the functioning of those areas which are involved in the handling of semantic memory.

Effects On Episodic Memories

The main part of the brain's memory networks is called the hippocampus. Initially, it was considered by scientists that by adulthood one's brain remains fixed in its function and structure. However, different experiments proved that human brains are capable of reshaping and rewiring itself. But how brain reshapes and rewires itself, it depends on our lifestyle. 

Experiments have shown that as regular exercise increases the production of a number of newly born neurons in the mature brain in animals which improves animal thinking abilities, similarly regular exercise increases the volume of the hippocampus in humans. Hippocampus is located in the brain's temporal lobe where episodic memories are stored, episodic memories are like we had dinner at a friend's home last month.

Many experiments have been performed on both the genders with a variety of age groups. Experiments on adults, old age people and mentally challenged people resulted in different output but the pattern was the same that exercise helps in the improvement of our memory. It also improves our brain's different abilities like our reasoning skills, analytical skills and some others. Studies have also shown that how things change when we follow exercise routine daily for a long time.

What causes memory to improve when we follow the exercise routine?

Experiments have helped in concluding that regular exercise improves oxygen consumption in our body which further improves our brain’s memory performance.

On one side exercise helps in reducing insulin resistance & inflammation and on the other side it helps in the increase of those chemicals which are helpful in the growth of blood vessels and also improve the health of brain cells. These all changes which are made by exercise in our body directly improve memory and thinking abilities of the brain.


Regular aerobic exercise is just like nectar for our body. It not only improves our physical health but also boosts up our memory.