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Physical Exercise Four Hours after Learning Improves Long-Term Memory

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A new study in the journal Current Biology shows that physical exercise after learning improves memory and memory traces, but only if the exercise is done in a specific time window and not immediately after learning.

The scientists found that those who exercised four hours after their learning session retained the information better two days later than those who exercised either immediately or not at all.

The MR images also showed that exercise after a time delay was associated with more precise representations in the hippocampus, an area important to learning and memory, when an individual answered a question correctly.

“Our results suggest that appropriately timed physical exercise can improve long-term memory and highlight the potential of exercise as an intervention in educational and clinical settings,” the scientists said.

It’s not yet clear exactly how or why delayed exercise has this effect on memory.

However, earlier studies of lab animals suggest that naturally occurring chemical compounds in the body known as catecholamines, including dopamine and norepinephrine, can improve memory consolidation.

One way to boost catecholamines is through physical exercise.

Top Reddit comment:

Delayed exercise is better than immediate exercise which is the same as no exercise. Do your memorising, then take a break, then exercise. No information on how long a break is best, only 0 hours and 4 hours were tested. Maybe.

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