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Healthbeat: The Link Between Exercise and Sharpening Your Memory

By Mark Hiller (PA Homepage)

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Did you ever forget where you placed your keys, or forget why you entered a room? Who hasn’t?

But when it happens too frequently it can cause serious concern. Fitness experts say physical exercise can help sharpen up and improve your memory.

If you’re out for a run on the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, you just might run into Mike O’Hara.

“I’m out here four or five days a week and at this point of the trail it’s a four mile walk,” O’Hara told Eyewitness News.

He credits his routine with helping him physically and mentally.

“It’s not that I get any great insight, but it clears all the peripheral static as it were out of my head.”

O’Hara and others who regularly exercise are onto something. Science shows it helps reduce brain inflammation. Exercise also helps increase the volume of two important areas of the brain — the prefrontal cortex and the medial temporal cortex.

“Specifically, the hippocampus is what so many people are concerned about because that’s verbal memory, like somebody talking to you and you’re being able to remember what they say and then answer back and that specifically in Alzheimer’s disease, you know, we see where somebody loses their place in a conversation,” Andrea Marcellus, a fitness expert said.

Marcellus teaches exercise courses to various age groups. She says not enough focus is put on how the health of brain cells and blood vessels is improved through exercise.

“So, it can slow and, in some cases, reverse cognitive decline and a loss of memory function. And so, it’s a really excellent way to help yourself if you start to notice these symptoms.”

Marcellus says moderate exercise which gets your heart rate up can boost oxygen to the brain. It helps reduce anxiety and a key contributor to brain inflammation: stress.

“So, we really need to address our stress levels in our 30s, 40s and 50s and exercise being a primary way to do that to help us prevent cognitive decline and memory issues later in life.”

You should always check with your doctor before starting exercise routine. Marcellus has more information on the link between exercise and keeping your mind sharp on her website.

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