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How exercise acts on memory and why more intense can be worse

Physical activity benefits both physical and mental well-being (Getty)

It is clear at this point that it will always be better for the physical and mental health do physical activity than lead a sedentary life. The point, like almost everything in life, is to find the balance, and to know that what is good for one person may not be so good for another.

American researchers set out to delve into these issues, finding that the exercise more intense is not always better for a person’s memory.

Experts at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, found that people who engage in moderate regular activity often had a better “episodic” memory than those who exercised more rigorously.

This means that they remember specific events better. At the same time, however, they found that engaging in more intense exercise on a regular basis increases a person’s spatial memory, allowing them to better remember locations.

“In general, more intense exercise is thought to correlate with stronger memory and better brain function” (Getty)

The findings, which were published in ScientificReports, surprised the experts, who noted that, in general, “more intense exercise is thought to correlate with stronger memory and better brain function in general. This study highlights that different levels of activity can affect different parts of the brain and, as a result, have different impacts.”

Physical activity can benefit both physical and mental well-being. Different forms of exercise – aerobic versus anaerobic, running versus walking, high-intensity interval training versus resistance exercise, etc. – impact fitness in different ways,” the study authors explained in the publication.

And after stating that, “for example, running can substantially affect leg and heart strength, but only moderately affects arm strength,” the researchers noted that “the mental benefits of physical activity could be similarly differentiated ”.

The Jeremy Manning is an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Dartmouth, and he argued that “mental health and memory are fundamental to almost everything that human beings do in their daily lives.” “Our study is trying to build a foundation for understanding how different intensities of physical exercise they affect different aspects of mental and cognitive health,” he said.

This study highlights that different levels of activity can affect different parts of the brain and, as a result, have different impacts.
This study highlights that different levels of activity can affect different parts of the brain and, as a result, have different impacts.

For the work, the researchers collected data from 113 users of FitBit, a smartwatch, which monitors heart rate and other indicators of health and movement. Each shared with the paper’s authors their fitness data from the past year tracked by the device. In addition, they performed memory tests and answered surveys about their mental health.

The four memory tests they included remembering a varied list of words, watching a short video and answering a short quiz afterward, studying flashcards that simulated learning a foreign language, and remembering where small objects were placed within a space.

Judging from previous research, the Dartmouth team expected that the more intensive exercise group would perform better on all types of memory than their peers. But this was not the case, however: People whose main exercise during the past year was described as “moderate” performed better than their peers who participated in more excessive training in tests of resistance. episodic memory.

The researchers describe episodic memory as the ability to recall autobiographical events, such as explaining what a person did the day before.

People whose primary exercise over the past year was described as
People whose primary exercise over the past year was described as “moderate” performed better than their peers who engaged in more excessive training on tests of episodic memory (Getty)

Meanwhile, those who had done more intensive training performed better in the tests of spatial memorywhich is a person’s ability to remember the location of things.

No significant differences were found in the test scores of associative memory.

At this point, the researchers found that any exercise is better than no exercise, as active participants test overall memory better than their more sedentary counterparts.

Previous studies had already reported the potential benefits of moderate exercise over more intensive training with regard to cognitive health.

Precisely, a study published last week and carried out by researchers at the Medical Center of the University of Pittsburgh found that moderate exercise throughout the day was more valuable than brief bursts of intense physical activity for older people seeking to maintain their brain fit.

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The article is in Spanish

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