How does exercise compare with other activities for affecting memory?
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is a protein, plays an important role in neuronal
survival and growth which is essential for learning and memory (Bathina S, Das UN, 2015).
Research suggests that physical exercise can affect BDNF levels both in the blood and the
brain, but how effective is exercise when compared with cognitive training, and mindfulness
That’s exactly what the following study investigated.
The participants were nineteen healthy older adults (Hakansson K, et.al., 2017).
They participated in 35-minute sessions of physical exercise, cognitive training, and mindfulness
practice in a crossover study.
The researchers showed that a single bout of physical exercise had a significantly larger
impact on blood BDNF levels than either cognitive training or mindfulness practice in the same persons.
Exercise needs to be a part of a healthy lifestyle for several reasons, memory is one.
Bathina S, Das UN, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications. Arch Med Sci.
2015 Dec 10;11(6):1164-78.
Håkansson K, Ledreux A, Daffner K, Terjestam Y, Bergman P, Carlsson R, Kivipelto M, Winblad
B, Granholm AC, Mohammed AK. BDNF Responses in Healthy Older Persons to 35
Minutes of Physical Exercise, Cognitive Training, and Mindfulness: Associations with
Working Memory Function. J Alzheimers Dis. 2017;55(2):645-657.