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Published on: October 7, 2014
by K. Aleisha Fetters for Women’s Health:
Whether you’re going over notes for a big work presentation or cramming for an exam, new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology shows that lifting weights after your study session may help you better memorize your material.
For the study, 46 young adults (20 years old, on average) looked at a series of 90 photos on a computer screen. Researchers didn’t ask them to remember the photos, but secretly, they were waiting to test their memory.
Then, the participants sat down on a leg-extension machine. Half of the participants performed 50 reps at max effort, which took about 20 minutes. The rest just sat on the machine and let the researchers move their legs for them. Meanwhile, the researchers also monitored each participant’s blood pressure, heart rate, and saliva (for stress-linked chemicals).
Two days later, all of the participants came back to the lab and checked out a series of 180 photos—the 90 originals mixed in with 90 new ones.
Researchers found that while the non-lifters remembered about half of the photos from the first lab session, those who had lifted remembered 10 percent more. Pretty handy trick, huh?
And this isn’t the first study to find a link between a fit body and a sharper brain. One Brazilian study, for instance, found that six months of resistance training enhanced lifters’ brain function, including their short- and long-term memory. Meanwhile, recent research published in Cognitive, affective & Behavioral Neuroscience found that young adults who are aerobically fit perform better on memory tests than non-fit ones.
However, this study is unique (and awesome!) in that it found that just one post-study weight-lifting session can improve your memory.
But how’s that work? Researchers explain that people are more likely to remember experiences after undergoing acute stress, which weight lifting provides. What’s more, they say it should also work with bodyweight strength moves like squats, lunges, and pushups. So there’s no excuse not to reap weight lifting’s memory-boosting benefits!
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