Exercising after you learn new things might help you remember them, a small study suggests. But the workout has to be done within a specific time window, and it can’t be immediately after the learning, Dutch researchers said.
Their study involved 72 people who learned a series of picture-location associations. The participants were then assigned to one of three groups: exercising immediately after the learning session; exercising four hours after learning, and not exercising at all.
The workout involved 35 minutes of interval training on an exercise bike at an intensity of up to 80% of the participants’ maximum heart rates.
The study volunteers returned two days later to see how much they remembered.
Those who exercised four hours after the learning session retained the new information better than those who exercised immediately after learning or those who didn’t exercise at all.
The study was published June 16 in the journal Current Biology.
“[Our findings show] that we can improve memory consolidation by doing sports after learning,” researcher Guillen Fernandez said in a journal news release. Fernandez is with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Radboud University Medical Center, in the Netherlands.
It’s not clear how or why exercising a few hours after learning might help people retain new information. Previous research in animals found that exercise boosts levels of chemical compounds that improve memory consolidation, the researchers said.
There is no controversy or political agenda here. I just found this study interesting and thought I would share it with you.
It’s important to note that the exercise was sustained cardio and did not exceed the aerobic zone of the participants. This would produce maximum oxygenation of the tissues of the body, including the brain. It also would improve metabolism of fats for up to 24 hours.
Aerobic exercise also creates the highest production of both endorphins and enkelphins in the brain. Endorphins reduce pain and enkelphins elevate mood. These chemicals account for the feeling of well-being experienced by many people during and after exercise.
The Bottom Line:
Ongoing learning and regular exercise habits are both vital aspects of a healthy lifestyle. This becomes readily apparent as we age. For any student, I highly recommend you incorporate some form of aerobic exercise into your post study activities.
Source: June 16, 2016 National Institutes of Health