Exercise has long been thought to have memory boosting capabilities, but a new study suggests that delayed physical activity might be the best way to take advantage of those perks. Photo by Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, asked volunteers to look at and remember where objects were located in different pictures. Then some were asked to exercise for 35 minutes immediately after, some were asked to wait for four hours before exercising and the rest did not exercise at all. When the volunteers came back two days later for followup testing and brain scans, the researchers found the delayed exercise group to have better associative memory and more brain activity relating to memory retrieval. The other groups showed little or no improvement. So if you're cramming for a test, memorising lines for a speech or presentation or just looking to retain what you've learned in a lecture, a little exercise later in the day is a good idea. It doesn't necessarily need to be four hours later either. The researchers still haven't figured out the optimal time, but they believe it's somewhere between 35 minutes and four hours after learning something.