Good news this week for those of us with persistent memory problems. According to new research out of Europe, moderately strenuous exercise actually improves ... what were we talking about again?
We kid you. We are kidders. Trace Dominguez remembers everything in today's DNews dispatch.
The gist: A new study published in the journal Current Biology suggests that regular exercise consistently improves long-term memory. Scientists have suspected as much for a while, but the new data suggests some interesting specifics.
The experiment worked like this: Researchers at Radboud University in the Netherlands gathered three groups of random participants and had each study a set of images. The first group did a moderately strenuous 35-minute workout immediately after the assessment. The second group, meanwhile, did the same exercise routine four hours later. The third group did not exercise at all. Two days later, all participants were brought back to the lab and tested on their recall of the image sets.
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It turns out that the second group was able to recall more images than either of the other groups. This is significant in that it confirms some hypotheses. We know that the brain releases certain chemicals during exercise, like dopamine and noradrenaline, that act as neurotransmitters. When those chemicals are in the brain, it's believed that newly acquired information is easier to retain.
That four-hour delay is critical, though. The participants in the first group (who worked out immediately after the test) scored the same as those who didn't work out at all. This suggests that your ability to retain information depends on both if you work out and when you work out. Since the brain chemicals had a beneficial effect several hours after the memory test, it suggests that regular exercise can help nail down long-term memories during that critical period when they otherwise drift away.
Trace has more details in his report, along with the usual procession of helpful visual aids. For some unfortunate science on a on a related topic, check out our earlier report on why sex doesn't really count as exercise.
-- Glenn McDonald
New York Magazine: If You Want To Remember This, Go For A Run 4 Hours From Now
National Library Of Medicine: Exercise Moderates Age-Related Atrophy Of The Medical Temporal Lobe
Harvard University: Regular Exercise Changes The Brain To Improve Memory, Thinking Skills