Exercise improves long-term memory

Posted on October 8, 2014

While it’s now well-established that months of aerobic exercise can enhance memory, a new study suggests that one single workout with weights can immediately enhance long-term memory by around 20%, examining the effects of a relatively short amount of resistance training.

In the study, people were shown a series of pictures which they were not asked to memorise. Half the participants were then instructed to do 50 leg extensions in a gym resistance machine. The other half sat in the leg extension chair for the same time but did not do the exercise — instead the machine moved their leg for them. The idea was to have both groups go through an almost identical experience, other than one group having actually carried out some resistance training, while the other had not.

When they were tested two days later, the participants who had not really exercised managed to correctly identify 50% of the photos they’d seen. Those who had really worked out, though, identified 60% of the photos.

The reason this works is that exercise puts us into a heightened state, after which, memories — especially emotional ones — are more likely to stick.

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Source material from PSY Blog