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Research shows HIIT-ting the gym might boost your memory


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Photo: Thinkstock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

You might remember to go to your favorite exercise class…but you have no clue where you put the car keys that are kind of vital to you actually arriving there. Luckily for you and your memory, new research says adding some HIIT workouts to your calendar could boost your heart rate and your recall skills.

In the study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, researchers found that as few as six weeks of intense exercise (20-minute HIIT sessions) made a big positive impact on the 95 participants’ memory skills. Most notably their high-interference memory—i.e., the kind that allows people to distinguish their sneakers from similar kicks in that post-yoga-class rush, for example.

Researchers found that as little as six weeks of intense exercise (20-minute HIIT sessions) made a big positive impact on the 95 participants’ memory skills.

Participants experienced an increase in the protein that helps brain cells grow, operate, and survive. (It’s called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF). And while this is good news for your brain now, it could also be helpful in the future—especially since the long-term memory function that BDNF supports gets weaker with age.

“As we reach our senior years, we might expect to see even greater benefits [of HIIT workouts] in individuals with memory impairment brought on by conditions such as dementia,” said lead study author Jennifer Heisz, PhD, in a press release.

Has there ever been a better reason to make HIIT part of your weekly workout sched? You might never have to deal with losing your keys, phone, or favorite headphones ever again.

Here’s how one happiness expert feels about HIIT workouts. Or, this is a case for treating your sleep routine like a HIIT workout.