We all know that daily physical activity offers a truckload of benefits. It’s indisputable. But, what if we told you that it could also help you improve your memory? What if simply going for a walk was the trick to memorising whatever list or presentation that lay waiting for you?
Well, it turns out that there’s some evidence to back this up, and the researchers involved in this study have even homed in on the exact amount of time for which you should sweat it out to see results.
In the past, studies have been carried out when it comes to determining the association between cognition and physical activity, and the result has always been a positive correlation, but now we’re getting more details about the exact relationship with memory and exercise.
Conducted by James Haynes and his colleagues from the University of Mississippi, a sample of 24 college students ranging from ages 18-35 were called to be a part of the experiment, and quite a few restrictions were put in place regarding the participants: no pregnant women, no smokers, no one who’d recently consumed coffee and no one on any attention-enhancing medication. Each one was put through the same set of conditions, but in different orders. The aim was to discern whether a short bout of exercise would be beneficial before a memory-related task, during or after—and if it would be effective at all. The exercise chosen was a brisk 15-minute walk on a treadmill, and the task was to listen to two lists of words being spoken out by the person in charge (the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test).
There were four one-hour sessions in total, the first being a control (where no exercise was done). They had to listen to both lists and recite back as many of the first as they could, constituting the testing of short-term memory. After a 20-minute break that was spent watching an episode of The Office, they had to again recall as many words as possible.
Upon comparison with the control results, there was marked improvement across all other three, but the real jump was seen when the participants walked before learning. So, the tip to be taken from this is that even a short jaunt before a task could be beneficial, if not for your memory then at least for your health.
H/T Psychology Today