Exercise may help you to remember things

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Exercising after you learn new things might help you remember them, a small study suggests.

Three groups

But the workout has to be done within a specific time window, and it can't happen immediately after learning, Dutch researchers said.

Their study involved 72 people who learned a series of picture-location associations. The participants were then assigned to one of three groups: exercising immediately after the learning session; exercising four hours after learning, and not exercising at all.

Read: Exercise keeps the brain sharp

The workout involved 35 minutes of interval training on an exercise bike at an intensity of up to 80 percent of the participants' maximum heart rates.

The study volunteers returned two days later to see how much they remembered from what they had learned. They also had an MRI.

Memory consolidation

Those who exercised four hours after the learning session retained the new information better two days later than those who exercised immediately after learning or those who didn't exercise at all.

Read: The real benefits of exercise

The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

"[Our findings show] that we can improve memory consolidation by doing sports after learning," researcher Guillen Fernandez said in a journal news release.

Fernandez is with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Read: Exercise may keep your brain 10 years younger

It's not clear how or why exercising a few hours after learning might help people retain new information.

Exercise as an intervention

Previous research in animals found that exercise boosts levels of chemical compounds that improve memory consolidation, the researchers said.

"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," Fernandez and his colleagues said.

Read more:

Exercise may reverse brain shrinkage in seniors

Could exercise make you smarter?

Aerobic exercise boosts brain power

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