Boost your brain... use your brawn - Telegraph
"Were you one of those forever leaping about on the tennis court at school or were you more likely to be found huddled around the Bunsen burner? Sporty or swotty, the two tribes have, by tradition, rarely crossed - save for the odd all rounder, who managed to be captain of games while studying advanced maths. Now, new research from America is confounding the old stereotypes, with the finding that exercise actually makes your brain bigger and more capable of learning.
The study, carried out at the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York, has shown that working out the muscles could simultaneously be pumping up the brain - and specifically the memory.
Exercise appears to directly affect a region of the hippocampus, the area of the brain concerned with memory and learning, called the dentate gyrus, one of the few areas of the brain where neurogenesis - the creation of nerve cells - takes place. Building up the number of nerve cells (neurons) and the connections between them in the dentate gyrus is vital to the prevention of memory decline that typically begins at around the age of 30. So does this mean that aerobic exercise can help anyone increase their learning potential?
Cell production is a complex affair relying on a ready supply of proteins and hormones, particularly a hormone called Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is known to be crucial in child growth and the development of every cell in the body. It is released into the bloodstream every time you contract and relax a muscle and so levels rise when you exercise."
I feel sure that optimising your nutrition is also a help in keeping the memory working well. Certainly nutritional deficiencies and 'slimming' can impair memory. Reducing salt/sodium intake also improves mental alertness.