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Want to improve your memory? Go to the gym

13 December 2016

Exercise improves your short-term memory, the annual conference of our Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology will hear today.

Dr David Marchant from Edge Hill University, Lancashire, will be presenting his reasearch to the Cardiff event.

In two experiments, healthy and active participants were given lists of words to learn and recall either after or before exercise, or before or after a period of rest.  Exercise consisted of 30 minutes of moderate intensity cycling.

The results showed that, when recalling the words immediately after learning, exercising before learning produced the best results than rest.  When asked to wait 30 minutes between learning and recall, exercising before or after learning was better than resting, but the best recall was when participants exercised after learning the words.

Dr Marchant says:

“Our research suggests that an acute bout of aerobic exercise improves your short-term memory. Exercise before learning benefited immediate recall.  But when people had to wait to recall the words, they performed best when they exercised after learning the lists. This improved memory didn’t come at the expense of making more mistakes during remembering. 

“Our findings are consistent with the idea that physical arousal improves memory, and those who need to learn information may benefit from taking part in exercise.”

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