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The Results Are In: Exercise Improves Memory And Learning. But How?

12th April 2023

12th April 2023

By Beth Shelper

Here at Innermost, we’re all about looking after your health: body and mind. So when we heard about this (may we say, ground-breaking) study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists, we just had to shout about it.

The results are in: exercise improves memory.

That settles it then. As if you needed more reasons to exercise, a recent study has confirmed that small amounts of exercise can improve memory function. How neat is that?! This exercise / memory study has shown that there are a range of exercises to improve memory and concentration, answering the age-old question in the fitness (and neurology) world: can exercise improve memory?

Ground-breaking exercise memory study: the details

So, here’s the 4-1-1. The exercise and memory retention study was conducted in 2018, and it’s results have revealed that exercise (even mild exercise) can improve memory function. Not only that, but these mild exercises can improve memory function… immediately!

Researchers at the University of California have recently found that light exercise increase the connectivity between the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory: both formation and storage, suggesting that we should all be implementing exercise into our daily lives (if we don’t already…)

Who was involved in the exercise and memory retention study?

We all know that the results of a study are only as trustworthy as the study’s methods, so don’t worry: we’ve done a deep dive to get the nitty and gritty out of this investigation.

The study involved thirty-six adults (all of whom were not reported to have any health issues and were young). The study involved scientists monitoring the participants’ brains after a short, ten-minute stint of exercise, to monitor brain activity and the functioning of the brain’s different areas, to determine the effect (if any) on exercise and memory retention.

Warning: scientific language incoming. After these ten minutes, researchers studied the thirty-six participants and found that there were far greater connectivity levels between the Hippocampal Denate Gyrus (aka, the area of the brain that creates our memories), and the Cortical areas, that are responsible for memory processing. Truly incredible stuff.

Not only is this a pretty monumental finding, but our Hippocampus is one of the areas that sees the greatest impact of deterioration as we age, so any research that provides opportunities to slow down (or even stop) this awful side effect of aging is more than welcomed by us here at Innermost (and by you, we’re sure).

Does this prove that exercise improves memory?

If you’re still not convinced, stick around. We’ve found some more studies to back up the science, so there should be no doubt in your mind by the end of this article. None at all.

The results of this 2018 exercise and memory retention study reinstated the results of a slightly older study conducted in 2011. The 2011 study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, or PNAS - for short, found that in a randomised (but controlled) trial with 120 adults, aerobic exercises such as running, swimming and walking reversed the hippocampal volume decrease that is synonymous with memory loss (and old age).

Exercise improves memory and learning. Fact. Case closed.

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably looking for some quick ten minute exercises to slot into your day now, correct?

Well, because you asked so nicely…

Our favourite exercises to improve memory and concentration

If you’re someone that spends a lot of time sat down at a desk (aka, a very large proportion of us), It’s super important to be getting up and about every hour to ensure you’re staying active (and improving your memory!)

Here are some of our favourite, short (and mild) exercises to help you stay active:

  • Star jumps (or jumping jacks, for our American friends)
  • Marching (on the spot, if you’re limited for space)
  • Wall sits
  • Lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Step ups
  • Seated knee-to-chest
  • Seated leg extensions
  • A brisk walk


Can exercise improve your memory? It absolutely can: you can’t argue with the science.

If you are someone that struggles with your levels of concentration, check out The Focus Capsules. Formulated with only the very best research-backed ingredients (the Innermost way), The Focus Capsules contain ingredients formulated to boost your cognitive performance and maximise your brain power. Check them out.


  • Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Prakash, R. S., Basak, C., Szabo, A., Chaddock, L., ... & Kramer, A. F. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 108(7), 3017-3022. Click here.
  • Kazuya Suwabe, Kyeongho Byun, Kazuki Hyodo, Zachariah M. Reagh, Jared M. Roberts, Akira Matsushita, Kousaku Saotome, Genta Ochi, Takemune Fukuie, Kenji Suzuki, Yoshiyuki Sankai, Michael A. Yassa, Hideaki Soya. Rapid stimulation of human dentate gyrus function with acute mild exercise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018; 201805668. Click here.

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