15 minutes of cycling are enough to boost our memory

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We know that physical activity is a great ally in the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. With intensity, it would be even better.

A new study, published in Scientific Report, suggests that vigorous physical activity, such as 15 minutes of cycling with sustained effort, can improve neural plasticity and improve memory. To reach these conclusions, researchers at the University of Geneva gave a group of 15 young men a memory test after 15 minutes of intensive cycling, 30 minutes of moderate intensity cycling, or after a period of time without physical activity. However, the results were better after the most intense training.

According to neuroscientists, the responsible molecule belongs to the endocannabinoid family. The production of this euphoric substance would not only give that well-known feeling of well-being after a workout, but it would also protect the brain.

The more intense the effort, the higher the endocannabinoid levels of the participants. However, it would act directly on the performance of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in the memory process. "These molecules are involved in synaptic plasticity, or the way in which neurons bond with each other, and therefore could act on long-term potentiation, the mechanism that allows optimal memory consolidation," the researchers explain.

While the study was conducted in young people, it paves the way for older patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers. "Physical exercise could prevent cognitive decline, especially when hippocampal function is impaired," they continue. And if these elderly patients cannot perform these activities, which are too intense, one could imagine, tomorrow, a treatment that would mimic the effects of endocannabinoids.

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