We know exercise comes with a lot of benefits, including accelerated weight loss, increased energy, and reduction of chronic diseases. However, new research out of the University of California has shown that exercise has another amazing benefit: improved memory. The best part? You only need to do 10 minutes of light exercise to reap the benefits.

Exercise And The Brain

Researchers from the University of California asked 35 individuals in their early 20s to participate in 10 minutes of light exercise, including slow walking, yoga, or tai chi.

After exercising, the volunteers were given a memory test. Later, the volunteers were given the same memory test, except they didn’t exercise first. What the scientists found was that connectivity in certain areas of the brain responsible for forming and storing memories had actually increased after light exercise.

As Easy As An Evening Walk

“The memory task really was quite challenging,” said Michael Yassa, the project’s co-leader who is also a neuroscientist at the University of California. “We used very tricky similar items to see if they would remember whether it was this exact picnic basket versus that picnic basket.”

The difference is that the people who exercised before taking the test did a better job at separating or distinguishing between different memories.

“An evening stroll is sufficient to get some benefit,” said Yassa, although the type of exercise should be determined on each individual’s physical ability, age, and other lifestyle factors.

Exercise Enhances Mood

The scientists also made a point of tracking each study participants mood in their research. They found that participants who had exercised actually seemed happier. This even prompted the researchers to change their own habits.

“I try to do walking meetings every now and then, and we try to get up every couple of hours and go for a nice 10-minute walk,” Yassa said. “Based on my experience, not only is the group more productive, but we’re happier.”

So if you aren’t too keen on hitting the gym hard, try to take it slow with some light exercise. Your memory and mood will thank you.