According to a new study, people who exercise four hours after learning new material can better memory recall 2 days later than those who exercise either immediately or not at all.
The findings reported in the Cell Press journal Current Biology show that physical exercise after learning improves memory and memory traces, but only if the exercise is done in a specific time window and not immediately after learning.
“It shows that we can improve memory consolidation by doing sports after learning,” said Guilln Fernndez of the Donders Institute at the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, reported Hindustan Times.
For the study, the research team tested the effects of a single session of physical exercise after learning on memory consolidation and long-term memory.
Seventy-two study participants learned 90 picture-location associations over a period of approximately 40 minutes before being randomly assigned to one of three groups: one group performed exercise immediately, the second performed exercise four hours later, and the third did not perform any exercise.
It was found that that those who exercised four hours after their learning session could remember the information better two days later than those who exercised either immediately or not at all. 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.
“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,” the researchers conclude.