Exercise can improve your cognitive and mental health, but not all forms and intensities of exercise have the same effect on the brain. According to a new Dartmouth study, the effects of exercise are much more nuanced, with specific intensity levels of exercise over a long period of time associated with different aspects of memory and mental health.
The findings are published in Scientific Reports and provide insight into how exercise could be optimized. The researchers also identified connections between participants' mental health and their memory performance. Participants with self-reported anxiety or depression tended to perform better on the spatial and associative memory tasks, while those with self-reported bipolar disorder tended to perform better on the episodic memory tasks. Participants who reported higher levels of stress tended to perform worse on the associative memory tasks.