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Last Updated on August 21, 2020

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too! Learning how to improve memory isn’t as difficult as you might think.

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through social media is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective strategies on how to improve memory.

1. Get Your Body Moving

Physical activities don’t just exercise the body, but it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain, so when learning how to improve memory, exercise is king.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to regulate blood flow. Plaque buildup reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

One study in particular found that exercising 4 hours after learning significantly improved memory retention. The researchers suggested that “appropriately timed physical exercise can improve long-term memory and highlight the potential of exercise as an intervention in educational and clinical settings.”[1]

To improve your memory, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming, and dancing are all excellent activities.

If you have trouble finding time to fit in a workout, check out this article: 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors

Any risk factors that cause you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will, in time, begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed as a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

One study assessed memory in 3999 veterans and found that “depressive symptoms (without anxiety) had an adverse effect on immediate recall of new information and the total amount (but not rate) of acquisition.”[2]

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream, which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus, which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression and any stressors causing it—your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will help you in your task of learning how to improve memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information, especially during REM sleep[3].

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. On the contrary, sleep deprivation can put a huge dent in your ability to form memories.

Another helpful strategy is to take a nap during the day, especially after learning something new. This can also help you to retain those memories, as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer. However, the length of your nap is also very important. Scientists, in one study, found that people who napped for 30-90 minutes experienced better word recall[4].

This TED video explains how you can improve memory just by getting the right amount of sleep.

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4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages, and the quicker you can think.

This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting. Their brains need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating, even to the adult brain[5].

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel, and wild salmon) and dark, leafy green vegetables.

For more great brain food choices, check out this article.

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat, but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats first.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins, which help nerve cells burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage, and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed. If you want to learn how to improve memory, breakfast is incredibly important.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other, and one study found that HFCS can actually damage the brain by promoting brain insulin resistance[6].

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. Don’t skimp on this important meal!

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

Nowadays, it’s fairly uncommon to write down notes with a pen and paper. When we go to class or meetings, we take our laptops and use that to mark down important ideas. However, recent research has suggested that may be doing us more harm than good.

One 2014 study found that “even when laptops are used solely to take notes, they may still be impairing learning because their use results in shallower processing.”[7]

You can start a journal, write yourself emails, or even start keeping a blog. All of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information. Most importantly, if you’re going to class or to a big meeting, consider taking notes by hand instead of on your computer.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories. If you’re looking into learning how to improve memory, this can be a great thing to try.

Listening to music has been shown to specifically benefit the memorization of words. One study found that young adults who listened to music while memorizing a list of words, as opposed to listening to environmental sounds or silence, performed better when asked to recall the words[8].

Next time you have to memorize a speech of want to compete in a spelling bee, try listening to music while studying. You may be surprised by how much it helps.

8. Use Visualization

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

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Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

Another strong visualization technique for memory is the memory palace. This essentially involves imagining a place you know well (your house or a former school, for example), listing distinctive features of the place in your mind, and begin to associate those features with things you want to remember. Then, when you need to recall information, you simply go the specific room or object where you stored the information in your mind, and it will come to you.

For more information on how to build a memory palace, check out this article: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

One study pointed out that this increased memory specifically because it forced students to recall the information in order to teach it[9].

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read, or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, reading, or playing cards on a daily basis helps to delay memory loss, especially in those who experience cognitive decline in the form of dementia[10].

So, pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book, or enjoy a game of solitaire if you want to boost your memory.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has the ability to learn how to improve memory and boost their brainpower, and everyone will find that different strategies work for them. Try out some of the above in order to get a feel for what works for you.

More on How to Improve Memory

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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Julie McCormick

Julie McCormick is a writer, and co-owner of The Cleveland Leader, a Technorati Top 1000 site.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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