There are tons of ways that scientists have suggested to boost memory. Now, a study published on June 16 in the journal Current Biology reveals that hitting the gym four hours after learning an information is the new technique to improve one’s memory.

The researchers from the Donders Institute at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands suggest that physical exercise should not be done immediately after learning. As of now, they are unsure why this approach has this benefit.

“It shows that we can improve memory consolidation by doing sports after learning,” adds researcher Guillén Fernández of the Donders Institute at the Radboud University Medical Center.


Exercising four hours after learning boosts memory. Credit: Free Stock Photos

The study involved analyzing 72 individuals and the effects of a single session of exercise on their memory, including long-term memory, after learning. These participants had to learn 90 picture-location associations within just 40 minutes.

The research team grouped them into three, with one group exercising immediately after learning the task, another exercising four hours later and the last one abstaining from exercise. The exercise included interval training on a bike for 35 minutes. The intensity was increased up to 80 percent of the study subjects’ maximum pulse rate.

The memory test was given 48 hours later. Their brains were scanned through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) while taking the test.

It turns out that those individuals who exercised four hours later were able to remember the information better than those from the other two groups. MRI results reveal that their hippocampi, brain part crucial to memory and learning, were active when they 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,” add the study authors.

More research is required to clarify these findings. Nevertheless, previous research implied that going to the gym boosts the body’s chemical compounds, also called catecholamines, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which improve recollection of ideas learned.