Working on your memory is one of the most rewarding things that you can do for yourself. This new study shows a hack that helps you remember something new you just learnt.
In order to give us the hack, researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands split a group of 72 volunteers into three. The three groups then underwent learning sessions that had them memorizing 90 image associations.
After the learning session, the first group undertook a 35-minute high-intensity exercise session and then a three-hour session watching nature documentaries.
The second group jumped right to the documentaries and then exercised and the final group excluded the exercise totally and just watched documentaries.
Two days later, the participants of the study were tested on the image associations that they had learnt. The group that exercised after watching the documentaries, which lasted about for hours, performed better than the other two groups.
The researchers have not yet ascertained what exactly enabled the delayed-exercise group remember something new that they learnt, more than the other two groups but they believe that it has to do with two chemicals in the brain (dopamine and noradrenaline) that help memory formation and consolidation.
Of course limitations exist in the study, considering that it was carried out on a small set of volunteers and the researchers still do not know if a four-hour delay is the ideal gap between learning and exercise.
More studies carried out in the past have however posited that exercise does keep the brain healthy. One 2013 study even showed that learning while doing a mild form of exercise can help improve memory formation.
People who are physically active have a larger hippocampus (the area that stores memories) and prefrontal cortex (the area that is responsible for key parts of thought), and their white matter (the brain’s “wires”) are more active.
So exercise will help to keep your brain at optimum capacity and there is another reason to engage in some.