It's no secret that exercise is good for you, but you may be surprised to know that a good workout can actually boost your memory, too. They key to giving your body and your brain muscles a good workout is by adding more weight and pushing hard for an extra 20 minutes.
According to a study conducted by graduate students at the Georgia Institute of Technology, those additional 20 minutes of strenuous weightlifting lead to a significant increase in long-term memory.
Researchers had participants view a series of photographs, then asked half of them to perform 50 reps of leg exercises while the other half did nothing. They then took saliva samples from each person. A few days later, the participants were shown twice as many photos (which included the original photos), and those who worked out were able to recall 60% of the images while the others only recalled 10% or less.
The saliva samples showed that those who worked out had an increase in the stress hormone norepinephrine, which has previously been linked to improve memory during exercise.
So by adding weight into your typical routine, and getting in a tough workout, you can improve your mind's memory with nothing more than physical effort. After all, what's a little sweat session when compared to brain training and working to reverse a poor memory?
Don't want to hit the gym to increase your brain power? You can still boost your brainpower by spending some time indoors.
By taking just 15 minutes to jot down reflections everyday, you'll both increase your productivity at work and perform about 30 percent better at the tasks before you.
When researchers tracked the effects of daily journaling, or reflection, over 10 days, they discovered that those who sit down and take a few moments to recall all that happened throughout the day performed more efficiently and with greater productivity.
- More Info: The 15-Minute Trick to Boosting Your Memory
Your boss might think it's a waste of your most productive hours, but taking the time out of your day to daydream will improve your memory much like a tough, weighted workout.
According to researchers at the University of Wisconsin, a wandering mind leads to a better, stronger working memory. When you let yourself dream of unicorns, fantasy jobs, and incredible vacations, you're increasing your mind's ability to retain and recall information—whether it's been stored for years or just seconds. And, when distractions appear, you'll be better able to focus in on the tasks before you, blocking out all that isn't needed.
After daydreaming under scientists' watch, participants in the study underwent memory testing. Researchers found that those who focused in on boring, repetitive tasks were less able to adapt to change—yet those who spent time daydreaming were much more capable of going with the flow, despite challenges.
- More Info: Improve Your Memory by Daydreaming
Of course, you don't have to do a single thing to give your brain a workout—if the effortless method is your preferred one. You can improve your memory and brain power simply by sitting and doing nothing.
Instead of heading to the gym, jotting down your thoughts, or even daydreaming, sit at your desk or on your couch. That easy act allows your mind to run free, processing all that's happened throughout a day. Yet keeping quiet can also help you to practice your memory retrieval techniques.
As you rest and let your mind wander, think back—what do you remember from this morning? What happened at the daily meeting, or what did your friend text you about her relationship? Test your brain's ability to recall items from the not-so-distant past, and strengthen your brain.
If you want to improve your focus and remember images, sights, and sounds long after you've left a locale, try putting down your smartphone camera and immersing yourself in what surrounds you.
As researchers discovered recently, those who view the world through their cameras are at a disadvantage. However, those who focus in on the oddities, specifics, and details of all that they encounter will remember more about what they saw.
Instead of whipping out your phone and its go-to camera every time you want to capture a memorable moment, try honing in with nothing more than your eyes. You'll remember more of the experience, and be better able to draw on what's already inside your head.
- More Info: You'll Remember More by Photographing Less
If all of the above seems like too much work for you, you can let your appetite do all the work for you instead.
Some foods are packed with vitamin D (avocados, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, etc.), which is known to decrease the risk of getting Alzheimer's. Others, like green tea, dark berries, and apples, are packed with antioxidants, which help prevent memory loss and cell damage.
So if you want to give your brain a workout, try lifting weights. But if you are more of a couch potato than a gym buff, you can work those most important muscles without leaving your house. Here are some more guides that can help you out: