I used to joke that I had a memory like a colander. The holes were so big and my ability to retain any information (other than things I needed to remember for exams, helpfully) was so bad that I couldn’t even say my memory was like a sieve.
It started to become an embarrassment. If you asked me in the evening what I’d had for lunch I wouldn’t remember. You could introduce me to someone and a sentence later I would already have forgotten their name. I could leave the house knowing that there was something I needed to attend to urgently when I got to work and I would return home that evening having completely forgotten to do it. In fact, I became quite adept at phoning my home voicemail from work and leaving myself brief messages with reminders of things I needed to deal with when I got home.
In January I did a blog-watch about using exercise for mental health. There is absolutely no question in my mind that my memory has improved noticeably since I started doing a robust program of resistance training. However, I’ve seen a couple of articles recently covering a couple of other things that may enhance memory which I wanted to share.
- First up, before looking at how we can enhance our memory, here’s a boost for women! In a study that was carried out on 9,600 middle aged men and women in the UK it was revealed that the women had better memory than men for word-recall tests than the men. It’s probably only fair to mention that they also made more mistakes than men on a later test, involving crossing out as many “Ps” and “Ws” on a page of random letters.
- That study was part of the National Child Development Study which has followed the lives of all these individuals since their birth in 1958. So what else did they find? For starters it seems that non-smokers (including the ex-smokers) performed better on the word-recall tests. So if you want to improve your memory and you are a smoker then start by giving up smoking. They also found that those who exercised at least once a month performed better on all the tests, on average, than those who didn’t. Once a month is not a particularly high amount of exercise so it’s really pleasing to see that even this small amount of exercise could confer mental benefits to the participants.
- A study carried out at Tel-Aviv University also concluded that magnesium can boost memory. However, it is worth noting that magnesium supplements didn’t seem to do the trick so yet again we are reminded that nutrients are best conferred to the body when consumed in the food where they occur. It has now been seen with numerous different nutrients that the body absorbs them to best effect with other “carriers” that occur in the foods where the nutrients can be found.
- Finally, as a bit of a reminder, the article in That’s Fit that raised awareness of the magnesium study also highlights some other things, such as exercise and iron that have been shown to improve memory.
Well, that list of things has certainly given me something to think about. For now I will stick with the exercise as the best way to enhance my memory, but it might be worth considering whether I’m getting sufficient nutrients as well to ensure I keep my mind in optimal health.
Is there anything else that you know of that can help improve memory?