Hanover, NH – Studies continue to conclude that physical activity is generally good for the body, brain and well-being. However, Dartmouth College researchers are revealing the true complexity of the relationship between exercise, memory and mental health. Their study overestimated the effect of exercise; Variations in long-term physical activity produce different effects on memory and mental health.

Mental health and memory They are central to everything we do in our daily lives,” said study author Jeremy Manning, assistant professor of psychology and cognitive science at Dartmouth. Media release. “Our research is trying to build a foundation for understanding how different types of physical activity affect different mental and cognitive health.”

No two workouts are exactly the same; Some people work at a particularly intense pace, while others take a low-key, less intense approach. Study authors gathered 113 Fitbit users and asked each person to take a series of memory tests, answer some questions about their mental health, and share their fitness data from the past year. Researchers expected more active participants to have a. Strong memory and show better mental health, but the results weren’t that simple.

Keeping it simple can be better for your brain.

Participants who exercised more often at a low intensity performed better on some memory tasks compared to athletes who exercised at high intensity. Those exercising more vigorously also reported higher levels of stress, while low-intensity exercise showed lower rates. Anxiety and depression.

Previous research projects focused on exercise and memory typically lasted only several days or weeks. The team at Dartmouth wanted to analyze the results over a much larger time frame. The data collected includes daily step counts, average heart rate, time spent exercising in the various “heart rate zones” defined by FitBit (rest, out of range, fat burning, cardio or max) and additional information. Full calendar year.

The team used a total of four specific memory tasks for this project, all designed to measure different types of memory at different time scales. A pair of tasks focused on testing “episodic” memory, or the memory we use to remember. An event from our past. Another task focused on testing “spatial” memory, or the type of memory that people use to remember places on a map. The final task tested “associative” memory, or the ability to remember relationships between concepts or other memories.

The results show that athletes who are more active than last year generally tend to improve their memory, but the specific areas that could use improvement vary depending on the person’s typical physical activity.

Moderate-intensity exercisers typically perform better on episodic memory tasks, while participants who exercise at high intensity typically perform better on spatial memory tasks. Meanwhile, in general, people who didn’t exercise often did worse on a spatial memory task.

Mental health problems affect memory

Specifically, the team found correlations between participants’ mental health and memory scores. People who reported having depression or anxiety often did better on spatial and memory tasks. However, self-reported participants Bipolar disorder He scored high on episodic memory tasks. People under stress performed worse on associative memory tasks.

“When he comes Physical activity“There’s a lot more complex movement in play that can’t be summed up in a single sentence like ‘walking hurts your memory’ or ‘stress hurts your memory.'” Professor Manning explains. “Instead, it appears that specific types of exercise and specific aspects of mental health affect each aspect of memory differently.”

More work is necessary, but the study authors hope that their research will one day lead to interesting applications in the future.

“For example,” Professor Manning concludes, “to help students prepare for a test or to reduce their symptoms of depression, specific exercise techniques can be designed to improve their cognitive performance and mental health.”

of Research published in Scientific reports.

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