3 Ways to Boost Your Memory

Frustrated that your once excellent memory seems to be failing you? Perhaps you’re studying and struggling to learn new facts, often forget where you’ve left your keys or phone, or people’s names escape you. Here are three ways to help improve your memory.

1.       1. Get moving. We know that regular exercise has numerous benefits. Now we can add brain function, including memory, to that list. In an analysis of previous studies, University of Canberra researchers found that aerobic exercise improved cognitive abilities in the over 50s, such as thinking, reading, learning and reasoning, while strength training improved memory. Study author Joe Northey believed the findings were convincing enough to enable both types of exercise to be prescribed to improve brain health in the over 50s. New research has even found that memory improves immediately after a short, single bout of exercise, although the benefit is only temporary.

2.       2. Tweak your diet. What you eat affects how well your brain functions – just as it affects every other organ in your body. The MIND diet is an approach with the goal of reducing dementia and age-related decline in brain health. Like the Mediterranean diet, it focuses on vegetables and wholefoods, but also singles out specific brain-healthy food groups. These include green leafy vegetables – such as spinach, rocket, kale, and silverbeet; all berries (especially blueberries); and oily fish high in omega-3 fats known to help control inflammation in the brain. What you don’t eat is just as important. The hippocampus is a part of your brain that’s key to your memory. Studies show that diets high in junk and processed foods (think lots of sugar, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates) appear to shrink the hippocampus, while healthy diets are associated with larger hippocampal volume.

3. Do nothing. When trying to memorise new material, most of us assume that the more work we put into it, the better we will perform. But we’d be better off taking breaks and literally doing nothing, say researchers. Just sit back and enjoy 10 to 15 minutes of quiet contemplation immediately after reading the material, and your memory of the facts you’ve just learnt will be far better than if you’d attempted to use that time more productively. The emphasis here is on doing nothing – no running errands, checking emails or surfing the web – as this gives your brain a chance for a complete recharge.

While the exact method is still unknown, we know that once memories are initially encoded, they pass through a period of consolidation that cements them in long-term storage. It was previously believed that this happened primarily during sleep, but research has since found that similar brain activity occurs during periods of wakeful rest, too.