3 Fun Activities Found to Improve Memory by 50%
If working crossword puzzles doesn’t sound appealing, you may be interested in trying some of these nontraditional ways to improve memory. Scientists say they have a dramatic effect. The methods involve activities you probably haven’t engaged in since childhood.
Many people have a problem with working memory, which entails following directions as well as remembering phone numbers, shopping lists or where they put their keys. If you fall into this category, you certainly have lots of company. But not to worry because scientists at the University of North Florida found 3 fun activities that can improve your memory by 50 percent: climbing trees, running barefoot and crawling on a beam.
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Proprioceptively Dynamic Activities are the Key
Researchers say such childhood pastimes are proprioceptively dynamic. Proprioception refers to being aware of the relative position of moving body parts without looking. Dynamic means the exercises had to involve locomotion or route planning, as opposed to standing in one place. In addition to the childhood activities, sports like tennis, squash and football are likely to have a similar effect because they give a good workout to the brain’s regions that control balance and orientation.
The findings are remarkable because only one exercise session proved effective. “Improving working memory can have a beneficial effect on so many areas in our life, and it’s exciting to see that proprioceptive activities can enhance it in such a short period of time,” notes researcher Tracy Alloway.
The Memory Test
In the study, 72 adults between the ages of 18 and 59 underwent a test where they were required to remember a list of numbers in reverse order. Following this, they were divided into three groups, one of which performed obstacle course-like activities that included climbing trees, navigating over and under objects, crawling along a narrow beam and running barefoot. To compare the memory-enhancing effects of the childhood activities, another group listened to a college lecture and the third group did yoga. After two hours, the memory of each adult was retested.
The results were dramatic, with the obstacle course group’s memory improving by 50 percent. No improvement was seen in the group that attended the college lecture, which meant the brief period of learning new information didn’t translate into a working memory benefit. Nor was any improvement seen in the yoga group, indicating proprioceptively static activities don’t boost cognition. The study was published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.
Why Was the Obstacle Course so Beneficial?
Proprioceptively dynamic activities exerted a greater challenge on working memory because of the complex body adaptations needed to navigate through the environment and terrain changes. The brain had to cope with fast-changing information, such as wobbly beans and creaky branches, while figuring out how to maneuver. Although the yoga exercises required proprioceptive awareness of body parts, it was static rather than dynamic, as the postures were performed in a small place.
“This research suggests that by doing activities that make us think, we can exercise our brains as well as our bodies,” says lead author Ross Alloway. “This research has wide-ranging implications for everyone from kids to adults. By taking a break to do activities that are unpredictable and require us to consciously adapt our movements, we can boost our working memory to perform better in the classroom and the boardroom.”
Perhaps it’s time to get in touch with your inner child. If you aren’t comfortable with running barefoot, tennis offers the proprioceptively dynamic exercise that is so beneficial for working memory.
Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at http://www.alternativemedicinetruth.com. Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.