Exercising Your Muscles Could Strengthen Your Brain

Two New Studies Find a Connection Between Working Out and Working In

by Leila Fletcher, age 11

The next time you are studying for your exams, you might consider going to the gym.

Scientists have been researching how exercise affects memory and learning. How you exercise could improve or decrease your ability to make memories.

Scientific researchers conducted an experiment with 81 women who were native German speakers. The women were exposed to tapes of paired words - one German noun they knew, matched with the corresponding Polish word. They were asked to memorize as many Polish words as possible.

The women were split into three test groups. One of the groups had to sit quietly for 30 minutes and then listen to the words. The second group exercised lightly for 30 minutes, then studied. The third exercised gently while listening to the words. Then, after 48 hours, the women were tested on what they remembered.

It turns out the women who exercised lightly while listening remembered the most words. The second best testers were the ones who exercised before studying. Coming in last were the women who were not active at all.

Another study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis, took 11 female college students and tested them on two occasions. During the first phase of testing, they were instructed to exercise vigorously while studying a textbook. The following phase required the students to just sit there and study quietly. After both phases, they were immediately tested, then retested the next day. The test results were worse on the day that they exercised than the day they sat quietly. But the day after exercising, when the students were tested, they remembered more then the day before.

“The message of these studies would seem to be that exercise timing and intensity interact to affect memory formation,” said Maren Schmidt-Kassow, professor at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. These two experiments suggest that working out lightly while you learn can help you remember things better. This gentle exercise may help you ace your tests!

[Source: The New York Times]