In this article, philanthropist Julian Omidi discusses the study suggesting that exercise assists with physical memory retention. Julian Omidi is cofounder of No More Poverty with his brother, Dr. Michael Omidi, MD.
If you are interested in increasing proficiency in a new skill, jump on a treadmill!
Yes–it seems, according to a recent article in the New York Times, that in addition to providing massive benefits to physical and emotional health and well being, exercise actually improves information retention.
The study consisted of a test group of fit men who were given the task of tracing a trail on a computer screen using a joystick controller. A portion of the test group exercised vigorously for 15 minutes before the tracing exercise, another portion was made to exercise after the tracing exercise, and the rest were not permitted to exercise at all. All of the test groups repeated the tracing experiment again one hour, one day and one week later. The group that exercised after the initial tracing experiment managed to perform the exercise the most accurately, with the group that exercised before the tracing experiment performing slightly less proficiently than the previous group, but still better than those who didn’t exercise at all. According to the article:
“What this result suggests, says Marc Roig, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen who led the study with his colleague Kasper Skriver, is that physical exercise may help the brain to consolidate and store physical or motor memories. Consolidating a memory is not instantaneous, after all, or even inevitable. Every memory must be encoded and moved from short-term to long-term storage. Some of those memories are, for whatever reason, more vividly imprinted than others.”
So, what does this mean? The evidence suggests that physical exercise can help with the retention of physical memory. Physical memory is classified by the association with the memorization of patterns of physical movement, as opposed to intellectual memorization of word patterns or formulas. Previous studies have indicated that exercise does improve the ability to remember, but there hasn’t been any data specifically linked to physical memory. Now that these results indicate that exercise might strengthen physical memory, the possibilities are legion. Physicians in Copenhagen, where the experiment was conducted, are working with children to find out if engaging them in a workout after their schoolwork helps them to retain information at higher degree accuracy.
It isn’t exactly known what induces the brain to retain memory after exercise; it is suggested that the substances such as noradrenaline released in the brain might have some effect on learning. However, the timing of the exercise is essential; it must occur immediately after information is first retained.
This exciting discovery might lead to innovations in education and memory rehabilitation after an injury or trauma!
By Julian Omidi
Reynolds, Gretchen. “How Exercise Can Help You Master New Skills.” NYTimes.com. The New York Times Company, 26 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/26/how-exercise-can-help-you-master-new-skills/>.