To make sure you’ll be able to jog your memory quickly, you might want to go for an actual jog a little after learning something.
Healthy volunteers that exercised four hours after learning patterns had better recall 48 hours later than those that didn’t exercise at all or exercised directly after learning. The delayed exercise may spur the release of molecules that boost the brain’s normal ability to consolidate and bank memories for long-term storage, researchers report in the journal Current Biology. If the finding holds up in further studies, it may suggest that working out a little after cramming could help bulk up your noggin.
For the study, researchers had 72 healthy volunteers spend 40 minutes learning the location of 90 objects on a screen—like a cartoon beach ball on the center right. The researchers immediately tested how well each participant did learning the objects’ locations, then split up the participants into three groups. One group went directly into a 35-minute interval training on a stationary bike (with an intensity of up to 80 percent of their maximum heart rate). The second group went into a quiet room and watched nature documentaries until it was time for their four-hour delayed workout. And a third group acted as the control group, which just watched nature documentaries and hung out—but didn’t work out—in the gym.