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.
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.
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
New York Times]