If You Exercise After Learning Something, You May Remember It Better

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There are plenty of ways to improve your memory. Sleep, for instance, helps consolidate information, leading to better recall. And, as Stat reports, a new study says exercise may also keep your steel trap more tightly closed.

As they recounted in the journal Current Biology, researchers gave 72 volunteers short lessons in picture-location associations, asking them to remember where certain objects had appeared on the screen. Afterward, one-third of the group exercised for 35 minutes on a stationary bike, while another rested for four hours before biking. The last group watched nature documentaries. Two days later, they all came back to the lab for another test and brain scans.

While neither the control group nor the people who immediately got on bikes after their lesson showed any marked improvement in memory, those who exercised four hours later did. The researchers found that delayed exercise increased associative memory and brain activity related to retrieving memories. Working out seemed to boost their long-term memories.

That’s not to say that four hours is necessarily the best amount of time to wait between learning and exercising. The optimal time might be between 35 minutes and four hours, or even longer than that. But some exercise is better than none, it seems.

There’s plenty of evidence that exercise is good for the brain in a lot of ways, and this bolsters previous studies in both rodents and humans that found that breaking a sweat can improve multiple types of recall, including spatial, verbal, and associative.

[h/t Stat]

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