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Unexpectedly Easy Ways to Boost Your Memory

While crossword puzzles, card games and playing musical instruments are well-known for boosting your memory, these less obvious, yet easy activities sharpen your memory just as well:

1. Aromatherapy - Sniff some rosemary.

Rosemary has a woodsy scent, one of the main aromas that helps develop new long-term memories. In recent studies, psychologists found that people in rooms scented with rosemary essential oil had a better recollection of occurrences and future tasks than those not smelling rosemary. Rosemary stimulates the cholinergic neurons which are responsible for memory and often depleted in those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. Peppermint and sage also contribute to memory performance, but not lavender (it has the reverse effect!)

2. Working out - Lift weights a little each day.

Lifting weights after an event helps you remember the details more clearly. Studies show that episodic memory, or long-term memory of an occurrence, is more successful when followed by a short routine of exercise. Resistance and strength exercises have a positive effect on remembering emotional responses and the events which took place. Quick, intense bursts of physical exercise produces higher levels of norepinephrine, a type of adrenaline which enhances memory. This goes to show that it doesn't take much time to take care of your brain.

3. Quitting Smoking - Stop for your lungs and your brain.

Not only does smoking cause heart disease, cancer, lung disease, premature aging and many other health problems, but it also causes serious damage to the brain. Smoking thins the brain's cortex at a faster rate and accelerates cognitive decline. It also damages areas of the brain that are crucial for the formation of memories and retrieval of memories. Nonsmokers have been proven to have a stronger "prospective memory," which is the memory associated with remembering to perform tasks in the future. It's never too late to quit and now, it's easier than ever!

4. Caffeine Consumption - Drink a cup of coffee.

Coffee provides the energy and focus many of us need to get through the day. But did you know it can make your brain function better? Studies show that drinking coffee after learning new information can strengthen your memory of it. Caffeine allows you to store memories as you normally would, but it makes storage faster, stronger and more efficient. It causes your brain to release norepinephrine, a chemical which enhances your memory. If you remember something 24 hours later, then it is also more likely you will remember it in the long-term for an overall, more stable memory.

5. Aerobic Exercise - Do your cardio twice a week.

If you notice that your memory is slipping, start fueling your brain with aerobic exercise twice a week. Research shows that women ages 70-80 with mild cognitive impairment who did cardio training enlarged the part of their brains that support memory and learning. Exercise either increases the rate of the production of brain cells for memory or allow them to stick around longer; either way, it's a win-win for your brain.

6. Sleep - Get a good night's rest.

A good night's sleep each night can help you remember the details of your daily life occurrences. Sleep is key for long-term storage of memories. Sleep also produces more active memory cells. When your brain is ready to convert short-term memories into long-term memories so that you can remember them in the future, it sends you to sleep.

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