Did you know that just 20 minutes of exercise can boost memory?

It is easy to get into a sedentary cycle of sitting and watching television or browsing the internet. Movement stimulates the brain and results kick in sooner than you’d think! AARP shared an incredible study about how a little bit of exercise can go a long way for your memory.

Co-author Michelle Voss, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Iowa, said in a press release. “You don’t have to think of it as training for a marathon. You can say, ‘I’m just going to be active today. I’ll get a benefit.’”

In the study, 34 adults, ages 60 to 80, who were healthy, but not regularly active, rode a stationary bike for 20 minutes on two separate occasions — once at a fast pace, once at a slower pace — and were given a brain scan and a memory test before and after each session.

They then were divided into two groups, one that exercised three times a week at a low level for 50 minutes, the other for the same amount of time at a more intense pace.

Most of the participants in the 50-minute, regular exercise group showed mental benefits, based on scans and memory tests, but the Iowa researchers noted that the brain gains were no greater than the improvements shown from rigorous exercising a single time for 20 minutes.

Keep in mind, however, that the boost in thinking and memory from just one workout was temporary, lasting only a short while, the researchers wrote.

As previous studies have shown, long-term brain benefits may take regular exercise to improve brain function and make those benefits last. But in the short-run, even a little activity may help.

You don’t have to become a runner, swimmer, or cyclist suddenly. Consider working in the garden, taking a stroll around the block, or walking through a museum. Get creative and don’t be afraid to take breaks. If you aren’t ready for 20 minutes of activity, you can split the time by being active twice a day.

Exercise has benefits beyond memory. Light movement can improve sleep, lift your spirit, and ease anxiety. Next time you aren’t feeling up for exercise, remember you will feel better, happier, and boost your memory!