Want a better memory? Hit the gym

If there weren’t already enough reasons to go to the gym, a new study shows that getting physical isn’t just good for your body; it’s good for your brain.

A team of researchers have found there’s a link between exercise and how the brain retains information.

Data from a series of experiments carried out on those post-exercise showed those who exercise after learning something new were more likely to retain the information.

The trick, the researchers say is to learn first, then wait for a couple of hours, and then hit the gym.

The science showed that exercising produces chemicals in the brain that help ‘fix’ memories in place. This can’t happen though, unless the brain has had time to mull them over first.

A four hour time period post-learning was identified by a team of Dutch researchers as being optimal for retaining information. The results showed people had better information recall two days later than those who exercised straight after studying or not at all.

According to study co-author Professor Guillen Fernandez, from the Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands the study, published in Current Biology, backed up the theory with results of tests carried out on a group of seventy-two participants.

The effects of a single session of physical exercise was tested on the group after they were asked to try to retain newly learnt information.

Then the participants were randomly split into three groups, those who either exercised immediately, after four hours, or not at all.

Two days later the group were given brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) during a test to see how much of the information they retained.

The MRI test results showed that exercise after a period of time had elapsed was linked to an area in the brain important to learning and memory.

Prof Fernandez said in the Daily Mail: “Our results suggest that appropriately timed physical exercise can improve long-term memory and highlight the potential of exercise in education and clinical settings.”