Exercise and Memory: Can Strength Training Give You a Boost in Just Two Days?

Researchers randomly assigned 46 young adults to either an active or a passive group. Both groups were shown 90 pictures (but weren’t told that they would later be asked to remember them).


After some warm-up exercises, the active group had to bend and extend one leg against heavy resistance 60 times (with a break after every 10 extensions). The passive group stayed relaxed while the experimenters used the exercise machine, with no resistance, to move their legs.

Two days later, both groups were shown the 90 original pictures and 90 new pictures for six seconds each, and were asked which they had seen before. The active group remembered the pictures more accurately than the passive group. The stress of doing somewhat strenuous exercise might consolidate memories, suggest the researchers.

What to do: Do strength training twice a week to keep your memory, muscles, and bones in shape. And don’t forget to walk, jog, bike, or get other aerobic exercise every day. In some earlier studies, a single bout of aerobic exercise also boosted memory.

Source: Acta Psychologica 153: 13, 2014.


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