A small session of aerobics can help boost your brain connectivity, along with promoting efficiency and alertness.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the McGill University reveals that one fifteen-minute workout session consisting of cardiovascular and aerobics-centered exercises can aid in increasing brain efficiency and connectivity. The study basically discovered that performing aerobic exercises for 15 minutes after working on a challenging visuomotor skill helped the brain achieve an efficient state to perform the task with long-term memory and greater connectivity.

Workout boost brain power
Credit: GETTY

Another study conducted by Marc Roig and colleagues in the past revealed that a single session of aerobics or cardiovascular exercise after acquiring or having to remember a new piece of information increased the brain’s ability to recall the information by boosting its declarative memory skills. The researchers explained that when the exercise is performed soon after memory acquisition, just one session of exercise can aid in boosting long-term memory retention of the information or new discovery made by the brain.

Further research conducted to identify the association between consolidation of long-term memory and aerobics-centered exercises have revealed that cardiovascular workouts also aid in strengthening motor skills and memory retention, particularly if the individual follows up the practice of any given motor skill with a 15-minute workout session.

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The recently conducted research based in McGill University sheds further light on one 15-minute session of aerobic workout and memory retention. The researcher behind this study, Fabien Del Maso, decided to undertake a broader observation about the mechanisms shifting within the brain while this process occurs by collaborating with Marc Roig.

These researchers conducted a study that examines the differences that occur within brain activity while acquiring motor skills and doing motor tasks with and without following it up with an aerobics workout. The subjects of the study were required to play a “pinch test’ video game that required them to exert a certain amount intensity on the dynamometer in order to move the cursor around the screen without making any mistakes. As they performed this task, their brain activity was being monitored through electromyography (EMG) and electroencephalography (EEG).

Brain exercise test
Participants in the study were divided into those who rested after a first take on a new motor skill and those who rode an exercise bike for 15-minutes. When asked to repeat the same task 24-hours later, those who had exercised used far fewer brain resources.
Source: McGill University

As soon as the first pinch-task playing session was completed, the participants were either told to sit idle or do a 15-minute workout riding the stationery bicycle. Then, after intervals of 30, 60 and 90 minutes, they were asked to resume the hand-gripping task while the observers examined their brain activity. The second phase of observation took place 8 hours after learning the first motor skill, and after another 24 hours, the researchers examined the brain for changes in efficiency, activity and brain connectivity.

The observations revealed that the subjects who had performed a 15-minute session of exercise on the bicycle after acquiring the hand-grip dynamometer skill managed to complete the challenging “pinch task” without engaging a great many brain activities and processes. Moreover, their interhemispheric efficiency improved 24 hours after acquiring the skill and performing the task.

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Upon conducting a comparative analysis of the brain data gathered from participants who exercised and those who sat still, the researchers discovered various differences. The data revealed that the neural connections between and inside the hemispheres of the brain had become considerably more efficient in participants who exercised for 15 minutes after acquiring the initial motor skill. Basically, the participants who had exercised had a significantly lower amount of neural activation within their brain, which means that their neural resources could be used to undertake more learning. Exercise can aid in vacating your brain so you can channel your mental energies towards doing more tasks than one.

Sleep is Essential to Improve Memory Retention & Consolidation

One of the most fascinating discoveries made by this study is the sparse differentiation in skill retention between the participants who exercised as those who didn’t 8 hours after acquiring the new motor skills. However, after 24 hours had elapsed, and both the participant groups were well-slept and active, the group of participants who had exercised revealed significant improvements while performing the complex pinch task without using many of their brain resources.

This is a clear indication of the essentiality of sleep and guides the focus of this research towards understanding more about the interaction between sleep and exercise, and how it works to improve the consolidation of motor skill acquisition and motor memories. This area of research opens up an intriguing discourse and there is a great deal to learn and understand because this groundbreaking research can create incredible new possibilities for health interventions that are capable of making a huge impact to the lives of patients and even healthy individuals.

The recent discoveries made by the McGill-based research have supplemented the previous hypothesis and discourses on the associations between acquiring new motor skills, aerobic exercises and getting sufficient amounts of sleep with a great deal of empirical evidence. For the past ten years, researchers had obtained some empirical evidence that revealed the essential part played by sleep in retaining and preserving the memories of new procedures and tasks, and there were speculations that exercising also contributes to improve the process of memory consolidation.

Exercise and sleep go hand in hand and bring improvements to the human brain, heart and overall body. Basically, quality sleep aids athletes and non-athletes exceed their workout capacities, and exercising regularly aids in improving sleep quality. It is important to create a seamless combination of sleep and exercise rather than attempting to overdo either one. Recently published research reveals that the brain requires an entire night’s quality sleep to retain and safeguard the memories of skills and procedures learnt throughout the day.

Sleep plays an incredibly important role in learning and memory retention, and when accompanied with regular exercise, it aids in strengthening the brain’s ability to acquire and retain new skills. The researchers explained that when we are struggling to learn a lesson or a skill, and we give it up for a good night’s sleep, it helps us take a fresh start in the morning, which is always fruitful. Musicians, researchers, athletes, gymnasts and other learns adopt this model of learning.

Learning complex movements and motor activity patterns is a process that tends to improve over time. So, whether you want to excel in studies or sports, getting sufficient amounts of quality sleep is essential. Sleep helps the brain retain and consolidate memories, which allow you streamline your affairs and learn procedural tasks and skills.

One aspect that makes the McGill study a significant and distinctive breakthrough that has the potential of making great progress is that these results can aid in devising a practical regime of aerobic exercises that dictates the time and amount of exercise required to help the brain improve its efficiency and memory consolidation abilities.

The recent research has also made some groundbreaking neuroscience discoveries that reveal that performing 15 minutes of aerobics workout after learning a new motor skill or procedural task, followed with a night of quality sleep can promote several functional alterations in the brain’s ability to consolidate motor memory. This groundbreaking discovery can lead to several potential breakthroughs in treating patients suffering from strokes, mobility challenges, injury-induced motor impairments and other illnesses, to quicken the recovery of their essential motor skills.

Reference:
Acute cardiovascular exercise promotes functional changes in cortico-motor networks during the early stages of motor memory consolidation
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053811918302398?via%3Dihub

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