6 Ways to Improve Your Memory

Jar your brain with these exercises and lifestyle choices

Just as you can get in shape with diet and exercise, you can make lifestyle changes to improve memory. While it's common for memory to weaken slightly with age, factors like sleep, intellectual activity, diet, exercise, medications, illnesses and stress also influence memory in different ways. Learn what you can do to improve your memory.

Get involved and engaged

Regular interaction with family and friends can be very beneficial to your brain, helping to maintain important cognitive functions. You're more likely to be exposed to new ideas and faces too, which keeps your memory active and stimulated. Challenging yourself with intellectually stimulating activities, like crossword puzzles, and avoiding stress are also key ways to improve memory.

Get moving

A study at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 2000 found a reduced risk of Alzheimer's Disease in people who engaged in regular exercise, whether by walking or through hobbies like gardening. If you're not currently active on a regular basis, speak to your doctor about tailoring an exercise program to your abilities.

Vitamins may improve memory

Several studies have linked vitamins C and E to better memory retention. In 2002, for example, the "Archives of Neurology" published a study showing 36 percent less cognitive decline in people who took the most vitamin E. Additional research has shown a combination of vitamin C and E supplements to be especially beneficial to memory.

Watch what you eat

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Achieving Optimal Memory, by Aaron Nelson and Susan Gilbert, stresses the importance of eating healthy foods, especially "brain foods" like vegetables, nuts, fish and whole grains. At the same time, for optimal memory, they suggest avoiding saturated fats, such as whole dairy products and red meats.

Improve short-term memory and long-term memory through good sleep

A good night's sleep is key to helping to improve your memory. Researchers believe that memories are formed and consolidated during deep sleep, and sleep deprivation can lead to drastic memory lapses in the short term. Aim for seven to eight hours per night as a general rule.

Using herbs to improve memory

Traditionally, the main herbs used to improve memory are ginseng and gingko biloba, both available in daily supplements. Although scientific research has not shown definite benefits from either herb, studies are still ongoing.

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