Out of shape? Your memory may suffer

The more out of shape we are, the worse we are at retaining information, suggests a study co-authored by Michigan State University cognitive neuroscientist Kimberly Fenn. Credit: Michigan State University

Here's another reason to drop that doughnut and hit the treadmill: A new study suggests aerobic fitness affects long-term memory.

Michigan State University researchers tested 75 college students during a two-day period and found those who were less fit had a harder time retaining information.

"The findings show that lower-fit individuals lose more memory across time," said Kimberly Fenn, study co-author and assistant professor of psychology.

The study, which appears online in the research journal Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, is one of the first to investigate young, supposedly healthy adults. Previous research on fitness and memory has focused largely on children, whose brains are still developing, and the elderly, whose memories are declining.

Participants studied related word pairs such as "camp" and "trail." The next day, they were tested on the word pairs to evaluate retention. Long-term memory is anything remembered more than about 30 seconds ago.

Aerobic fitness was gauged by oxygen consumption derived from a test and factored with the participants' weight, percent body fat, age and sex.

The findings speak to the increasingly sedentary lifestyles found in the United States and other Western cultures. A surprising number of the college students in the study were significantly out of shape and did much worse at retaining information than those who were extremely fit, Fenn said.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Positive memories of exercise spur future workouts

Mar 18, 2014

Getting motivated to exercise can be a challenge, but new research from the University of New Hampshire shows that simply remembering a positive memory about exercise may be just what it takes to get on the treadmill. This ...

Recommended for you

Could summer camp be the key to world peace?

7 hours ago

According to findings from a new study by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Jane Risen, and Chicago Booth doctoral student Juliana Schroeder, it may at least be a start.

Gender disparities in cognition will not diminish

Jul 28, 2014

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, investigated the extent to which improvements in living conditions and educational opportunities over a person's life affect cognitive abilities and th ...

Facial features are the key to first impressions

Jul 28, 2014

A new study by researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of York shows that it is possible to accurately predict first impressions using measurements of physical features in everyday images of faces, such ...

User comments