For those of you looking to improve your memory for CII exams, but who baulk at the idea of exercise, the bad news is nothing works better!
The good news though is that you can get away with gentle walking for half an hour, three times a week. Surely we can all do that?
It seems that even gentle exercise can improve learning abilities and increase concentration and reasoning by 15%. That’s huge if you’re looking for a good comfortable exam pass mark.
Apparently the effects of exercise are more noticeable the older we get. Active senior citizens do better on memory tests and show far less decline over the years than their sedentary friends.
Angela Balding from Exeter University has found that 10 and 11-year-olds exercising three or four times a week, get higher grades than average. The effect is even more noticeable in boys. She suggests that maybe aerobic exercise boosts mental ability because of the extra oxygen going to the brain.
Until recently we believed that we’re all born with a full complement of brain cells which gradually die off over the years. However we now know that we continue to grow new brain cells, even as adults.
Physical exercise encourages this growth, and as Fred Gage from the Salk Institute in La Jolla California showed in 2000, we continually produce new brain cells. Exercise is one the best ways of encouraging this.
If you knew that you really could make a difference to your CII exam grade, would you too, exercise for a better memory?
Experiments with mice have shown that exercise boosts the formation of new brain cells, especially in the hippocampus, a very important part of the brain for learning and memory. It’s also a part of the brain which is easily damaged when we’re stressed, because of the elevated levels of the hormone called cortisol.
Exercise however, helps to lower stress levels. Yoga in particular has been shown to be very beneficial to the brain. Research done at the University of California Los Angeles demonstrated the ability of different yoga poses to alter our mood. Apparently the best way to improve the way we feel is to bend over backwards!
More good news… Research on mirror neurons, associated with empathy and learning through copying, has shown that simply by watching somebody else exercising, and imagining doing the exercise with them, actually strengthens muscles! Many experiments have now been conducted showing this to be the case. For example, at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, where volunteers spent 15 minutes a day just thinking about exercising their biceps, after 12 weeks their arms became 13% stronger!
Something to think about!