Evidence for improved memory from five minutes of immediate, post-encoding exercise among women

Steven B. Most, Briana L. Kennedy, Edgar A. Petras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Web of Science)


Memories consolidate over time, with one consequence being that what we experience after learning can influence what we remember. In these experiments, women who engaged in 5 minutes of low-impact exercise immediately after learning showed better recall for paired associations than did women who engaged in a non-exercise control activity. In experiments 1 and 2, this benefit was apparent in a direct comparison between exercise and non-exercise groups. In experiment 3, it was reflected in a weak, positive correlation between memory performance and exercise-induced change in heart rate. In experiment 4, similar patterns emerged, although they fell short of statistical significance. Such memorial benefits did not emerge among male participants. In experiment 1, half the participants alternatively engaged in an equivalent period of exercise prior to learning, with no benefits for retention of the learned material, suggesting that the memorial benefits of exercise-induced arousal may reflect a specific impact on post-learning processes such as memory consolidation. A meta-analysis across the experiments revealed a reliable benefit of post-learning exercise among women. Variation in the strength of the effect between experiments is consistent with a literature suggesting small but reliable benefits of acute exercise on cognitive performance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalCognitive Research: Principles and Implications
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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