Brief Exercise Immediately Enhances Memory, six minutes at 70 percent
Results apply to older adults both with and without cognitive deficits
Irvine, Calif., Nov. 26, 2012 — A short burst of moderate exercise enhances the consolidation of memories in both healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment, scientists with UC Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory have discovered.
Most research has focused on the benefits of a long-term exercise program on overall health and cognitive function with age. But the UCI work is the first to examine the immediate effects of a brief bout of exercise on memory.
In their study, post-doctoral researcher Sabrina Segal and neurobiologists Carl Cotman and Lawrence Cahill had people 50 to 85 years old with and without memory deficits view pleasant images - such as photos of nature and animals - and then exercise on a stationary bicycle for six minutes at 70 percent of their maximum capacity immediately afterward.
One hour later, the participants were given a surprise recall test on the previously viewed images. Results showed a striking enhancement of memory by exercise in both the healthy and cognitively impaired adults, compared with subjects who did not ride the bike.