Exercise can help improve your ability to remember new information, but timing is key, new research shows.
Specifically, exercising four hours after a learning session helped participants retain information better in a study recently published in the journal Current Biology.
“Our results suggest that appropriately timed physical exercise can improve long-term memory and highlight the potential of exercise as an intervention in educational and clinical settings,” write the researchers, primarily from Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
They tested how one session of physical exercise after learning affected the memory of 72 study participants.
The participants spent about 40 minutes learning 90 picture-location associations and then were assigned to one of three groups:
- A group that exercised immediately after learning.
- A group that exercised four hours after learning.
- A group that did not exercise.
Participants in the first two groups did 35 minutes of interval training on an exercise bike.
Two days later, participants were tested on how much they remembered while magnetic resonance images (MRIs) were taken of their brains.
The participants who exercised four hours after learning retained the information better than participants in the other two groups.
Additionally, researchers found:
The brain images also showed that exercise after a time delay was associated with more precise representations in the hippocampus, an area important to learning and memory, when an individual answered a question correctly.
To learn more about connections between exercise and the brain, check out “7 Free or Cheap Ways to Boost Your Brain Power.”
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