Exercise After Learning Boosts Memory in Women
Getting a bit of physical activity – as little as just five minutes of light exercise – after learning something new improves memory in young women, according to a study published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, included four experiments and involved 256 participants.
One experiment involved 74 undergraduate students – 38 women and 36 men – divided into two groups. One group participated in five minutes of low-impact exercise before a learning activity that involved remembering name-face pairs, and the other group participated in another, non-exercise activity. The next day, researchers tested the participants' memory of the learning activity. Then the same conditions were repeated with five minutes of activity after the learning session. The other experiments were similar.
According to the researchers, women who engaged in mild exercise after learning performed considerably better on memory tests than women who didn’t exercise. Interestingly, physical activity boosted learning retroactively in women, but not in men.