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Learn Exercise Remember

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Most people buy a treadmill desk to help lose weight or get in shape but the biggest benefits may be in your mind...literally.

 

A new study published in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications shows that just 5 minutes of light physical exercise following a learning session improves memory in young women.

 

Dr. Steven Most, of the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia authored the study which consisted of four experiments on 256 undergrads.

 

All four experiments had participants learn names and faces from photographs with the control group doing no exercise and the experimental group doing just five minutes of light aerobic exercise either before and/or after the learning phase.   Participant’s memory of images were tested the same day in one experiment and on the following day after a good night’s sleep in another.   A fourth variation involved images of abstract shapes.   At this point, the researchers noticed that women who engaged in mild physical activity after learning performed considerably better on memory tests than the women who did not exercise.

 

“The effect came into play only when participants exercised after they had studied the material, meaning that exercise retroactively boosted learning,” says Dr. Most.

 

The experiments validated the beneficial effects exercise has on memory, especially when done just after learning. "But mysteriously," says Dr. Most, "this effect did not emerge among men in any of the experiments."

 

"It's unclear whether there is a true sex difference or whether there was something about the experiment conditions that allowed the effect to emerge among women and not men."

 

Dr. Most says a bias in the study may have been facial recognition versus abstract shapes.   Dr. Most speculates that females reacted better to male faces and that conversely, men might have remembered the names better if they had been exposed to female faces.

 

More important,  Dr. Most  commented, "Some schools are under pressure to cut back on recess in order to increase time in the classroom, but it may be that encouraging physical activity breaks at several points during the day can actually help with the retention of classroom learning.”  

 

We have numerous articles and studies showing the effect of exercise on mental function on the Why UnSit page.     We  awarded Dr. John Ratey author of Spark with our Walkie Award.   Dr. Ratey’s book  goes  into great depth documenting how exercise improves brain function.    So if  you want to think better, learn more and create you should  EXERCISE.    

 

~  I walked 3,075 steps typing this article.